2015.04.20 DEIR.Response.SacMod

April 20, 2015
Submitted via e-mail
Scott Johnson, Associate Planner
City of Sacramento Community Development Dept.
Environmental Planning Services
300 Richards Blvd., 3rd Floor
Sacramento, CA 95881
E-mail: [email protected]
Re: Draft Environmental Impact Report for the Sacramento Commons Project
(P14-012) (SCH#2014042032)
Dear Mr. Johnson:
On behalf of Sacramento Modern (SacMod), thank you for the opportunity to comment
on the Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) for the Sacramento Commons Project
(Sacramento Commons).
SacMod is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization founded in 2010; we are dedicated to
preserving modern art, architecture, and design in the Sacramento region. We do this
by conducting home tours, bike tours, walking tours, film screenings, preservation
campaigns, researching, writing, and educating the public about modernism.
Capitol Towers is a historic district pursuant to Federal and State law. Since the Notice
of Preparation for Sacramento Commons in September 2014, Capitol Towers Historic
District has been formally determined eligible to be listed on the National Register of
Historic Places and is on the California Register of Historical Resources. The City of
Sacramento Preservation determined it should be a landmark and voted in favor of
placing it on the Sacramento Register of Historic and Cultural Resources.
Capitol Towers Historic District was built from 1959 to 1965. The award-winning original
design for this rare and intact mid-20th century established community includes the
interplay of high-rises, individual low-rise garden apartments, green spaces, recreational
A 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to promoting, preserving and protecting modern art, architecture and design in the Sacramento region.
Gretchen Steinberg 4910 South Land Park Drive, Sacramento, CA 95822
[email protected]
SacMod.org
areas, and car-free bicycle and pedestrian areas. It is an urban oasis and early example
of mixed-use development in the heart of downtown Sacramento.
Capitol Towers has been acclaimed for its thoughtful and people-oriented design and
planning features from conception through completion. It was the first redevelopment
project constructed by many of its talented design team that included Wurster, Bernardi,
and Emmons, Edward Larrabee Barnes, DeMars & Reay, and Lawrence Halprin, and
reflects their social and aesthetic philosophies. In particular, Capitol Towers embodies
the design and planning approach of Wurster, Bernardi, and Emmons applied to a large
urban property, and is considered by Lawrence Halprin to be his first urban plaza.
But Capitol Towers Historic District is more than a collection of low-rises, a high-rise,
trees, landscaping, and the sculptural wall. It is more than the impressive list of master
architects and the designers involved in making it. It is a beautiful and intact
neighborhood that continues to be successful even 50 years after it was completed. It
includes open, park-like green spaces and gathering places. It is a historic district worth
preserving for future generations to experience and enjoy. The neighborhood is already
one of the most densely populated residential areas in downtown Sacramento.
Sacramento Commons disingenuously and incorrectly identities itself as a “sustainable
communities project” while eviscerating Capitol Towers Historic District. The proposed
project as described in the DEIR violates local, state, and federal public policies and
needlessly exposes taxpayers to litigation arising out of these violations.
Furthermore, the cornerstone of Sacramento Commons DEIR relies on Sacramento
Area Council of Government (SACOG)’s “Consistency Determination” letter — which
fails to take into account the historical resources on site and pre-dates the formal finding
that Capitol Towers has been determined eligible to be listed as a historic district on the
National Register of Historic Places and is listed on the California Register of Historical
Resources.
Sacramento Commons uses greenwashing to sell the wrong product in the wrong place.
The Applicant, Kennedy Wilson, is unlikely to deliver the currently proposed project after
receiving entitlements and flipping the properties pursuant to its track record.
Capitol Towers Historic District is a thriving, vibrant, established community that already
embodies the standards, principles, and intentions that Sacramento Commons seeks to
achieve. The buildings are inhabited, recently rehabilitated, and fully economically
viable.
The items set forth in the DEIR for Sacramento Commons must be considered in light of
the neighborhood’s historical status. Sacramento Commons' planned demolition and
redesign of the historic district will have devastating impacts on numerous levels that
CAN and SHOULD be avoided.
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Capitol Towers Historic District and neighborhood’s density units per acre, according to
our calculations, is 59.8. This is remarkably close to complying with the Central
Business District minimum density of 61 units pursuant to the 2030 General Plan that is
intended for new developments. As a matter of fact, Capitol Towers Historic District and
neighborhood is already one of the densest areas of downtown Sacramento, second
only to Sacramento County Jail, according to U.S. Census data. Sacramento Commons
seeks to shoehorn more density in an area that essentially conforms with the 2030
General Plan.
Capitol Towers Historic District already meets or can accommodate Sacramento
Commons DEIR’s project objectives without demolition. In particular, the project
objective of adding further density can be achieved on site without harming the majority
of historical resources. Wedging more density by destroying viable housing stock in a
historic district does not make sense. Why would the City be in favor of destroying the
second most densely populated area in downtown Sacramento?
Furthermore:
1) there are dozens of other projects that have received entitlements by the City that
achieve the City’s goal of density. SacMod counted a total of at least 26,146 new or
entitled units in or close to Central City and another 21,946 units nearby in Natomas,
South Sacramento, and West Sacramento;
2) there are other more suitable sites — that do not contain an established historic
district and park neighborhood — that would benefit from such development.
For instance, “The Docks” area would be an ideal location for Sacramento Commons
due to its proximity to the waterfront and the proposed streetcar line.
Sacramento Commons DEIR’s version of mitigation — retaining the existing Tower,
relocating the sculptural wall and recordation with various interpretive plaques and
exhibits after the demise of Capitol Towers Historic District — is insufficient. This very
type of mitigation has been successfully challenged in court. “‘Documentation of the
historical features of the building and exhibition of a plaque do not reasonably begin to
alleviate the impacts of its destruction. A large historical structure, once demolished,
normally cannot be adequately replaced by reports and commemorative markers.’”
Architectural Heritage Association v. County of Monterey, 122 Cal.App.4th 1095, 1119
(2004), quoting from League for Protection of Oakland’s etc. Historic Resources v. City
of Oakland, 52 Cal.App.4th 896, 909 (1997). The gross inadequacy of the Applicant’s
proposed mitigation here is perhaps best stated in Architectural Heritage Association,
supra, 122 Cal.App.4th at 1119:
“As drawing a chalk mark around a dead body is not mitigation, so
archival documentation cannot normally reduce destruction of an historic
resource to an insignificant level.”
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Simply put, Applicant does not seek to mitigate negative impacts on a historic district, it
eradicates any sense of community, neighborhood, or civic pride. It destroys a uniquely
“Sacramento” style of city living that continues to serve as the model for an urban core.
According to CEQA law — as it correctly applies to Sacramento Commons — project
alternatives MUST be carefully examined. During the CEQA process it is incumbent
upon the City to provide the necessary leadership, guidance, and commitment to ensure
that CEQA law is upheld. Design problems warrant design solutions. Preservation and
progress can be achieved at the same time through compromise and ingenuity.
Background
Kennedy Wilson (KW / Applicant), a real estate investment services company,
purchased Capitol Towers around May 2012. In December 2013, KW presented their
plans to demolish and rebuild parts of the neighborhood. KW hired agents, including
AECOM (Architecture, Engineering, Consulting, Operations, and Maintenance) to assist
with the entitlement process.
On February 18, 2014, SacMod board members attended a public meeting during which
representatives from KW and AECOM discussed their proposed plans to develop the
Capitol Towers neighborhood into “Sacramento Commons.” During this meeting, KW
refused to have a meaningful dialogue with residents of the neighborhood and
community about their concerns, which included a clear advisement on the existence of
historical resources from members of the preservation community.
KW’s perfunctory meetings to announce the Sacramento Commons project without
allowing for meaningful input and dialogue has resulted in opposition from neighborhood
residents and the preservation community.
In the following months, KW and its agents have continued to misinterpret and abuse
CEQA law in an effort to dismiss and deny that Capitol Towers contains historical
resources.
SacMod is opposed to the specific proposed actions listed in the March 2015 DEIR and
Draft Planned Unit Development (PUD) Guidelines to:
- demolish the historical low-rise apartments and the majority of the established tree
canopy;
- re-zone the historic district;
- chop the historic district into six smaller and separate parcels;
- relocate the historical sculptural wall by artist Jacques Overhoff; and
- significantly alter the historical high-rise’s appearance.
Despite unanimous validation from the Keeper of the National Register, the California
State Historical Resources Commission, and the City’s Preservation Commission and
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Director, Sacramento Commons’ DEIR refuses to fully acknowledge Capitol Towers
Historic District, citing that “experts disagree.”
Of note, the only voice of disagreement is a discredited historical analysis — by the
Applicant’s hired historical consultant.
In fact, the proposed Sacramento Commons project will:
- destroy a highly successful established community and model for livable downtown
housing that is densely populated, high-occupancy, and has been mixed-use for over
50 years. Applicant has a demonstrated track record of flipping properties and virtually
no demonstrated track record of development.
- displace hundreds of middle income renters in favor of higher income renters, forcing
them to the suburbs and facilitating longer commutes. This paradoxically will result in
a net increase in greenhouse gasses, not a decrease as the project’s proponents
claim.
- negatively impact the quality of life for seniors and persons with disabilities who live in
adjacent buildings in the neighborhood.
- destroy the majority of the property’s urban tree canopy of old growth trees which is
critical for the health and well-being of all city residents and visitors. These trees are a
vital contributor to cooling Downtown’s microclimate and help remove pollution.
In essence, Sacramento Commons decimates Capitol Towers Historic District — an
established park neighborhood and successful pedestrian / bicycle-friendly mixed-use
residential community. Capitol Towers Historic District’s award-winning design
includes large open vistas and park-like green spaces / gathering places — unlike what
is being proposed by Sacramento Commons. Of note, most of Sacramento Commons’
purported improvements and amenities already exist in Capitol Towers Historic District
or can be easily added without wasteful and needless demolition.
Alternatives that respect the District’s historical resources MUST be considered.
Capitol Towers Historic District is eligible for and should receive recognition by the City
of Sacramento City Council as a local landmark by placing the district on the
Sacramento Register of Historic and Cultural Resources so that it obtains the proper
stewardship it merits.
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Capitol Towers Historic District’s Status Has Been Firmly Established
at Local, State, and Federal Levels — and Among National Experts
Even though DEIR 4.4-17 states “While disagreement exists between historical experts
concerning the historical value of the project site,” there is overwhelming evidence of
consensus and agreement among numerous experts that Capitol Towers is a historic
district. In fact, there is unanimous validation among experts at local, state, and federal
levels — and among national experts and organizations — as demonstrated below:
1)
On August 20, 2014, the analysis within the evaluation by Applicant’s historical
expert JRP Historical Consulting, LLC, was unanimously and vociferously
discredited by architects and professional historic preservationists during testimony
at the City of Sacramento’s Preservation Commission.
2)
On October 16, 2014, the City of Sacramento’s Preservation Commission wrote a
letter to Mayor Kevin Johnson that stated: “After reviewing the nomination and
hearing public testimony, the Commission voted unanimously to send a letter in
support of the nomination of Capitol Towers for listing in the National Register of
Historic Places.”
3)
On November 7, 2014, the California State Historical Resources Commission
unanimously determined that Capitol Towers is eligible to be listed on the National
Register and forwarded their findings to the Keeper of the National Register.
4)
On December 31, 2014, the Keeper of the National Register determined that
Capitol Towers was eligible for the National Register of Historic Places (National
Register).
5)
On January 16, 2015, California State Historic Preservation Officer Carol RolandNawi wrote: “As a result of being determined eligible for the National Register, this
property has been listed in the California Register of Historical Resources, pursuant
to Section 4851(a)(2) of the California Code of Regulations.”
6)
On February 19, 2015, the City of Sacramento’s Preservation Director: “held a
public hearing, reviewed the nomination application submittal materials, took public
comments, and:
• “made a preliminary determination regarding the eligibility of the resources,
concurring with the nomination proposal, that Capitol Towers is eligible for
listing in the Sacramento Register as a Historic District, including the
proposed Contributing Resources;
• nominated the Capitol Towers as a Historic District including its’ Contributing
Resources for listing in the Sacramento Register, to be forwarded to the
Preservation Commission for its consideration and recommendation to the
City Council;
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• made recommendations, to be forwarded to the Preservation Commission,
regarding the significant features or characteristics of the nominated
resources; and,
• forwarded the nomination to the Preservation Commission for its
consideration and recommendation to the City Council on the nominated
historic district, contributing resources, and features and characteristics, for
listing in the Sacramento Register….”
7) On April 15, 2015, the City of Sacramento Preservation Commission:
- determined Capitol Towers Historic District should be a landmark and voted in favor of
placing it on the Sacramento Register of Historic and Cultural Resources;
- voted against the applicant’s request for demolition;
- recommend that the City of Sacramento Planning and Design Commission deny
approval for the Sacramento Commons as it is currently written. In particular, the
Preservation Commission determined that project alternatives should include
decreased density options and alternative sites.
In addition to Capitol Towers Historic District being vetted at four levels of expert review
as outlined above, there is additional consensus from multiple national experts and
organizations.
This includes letters of support for Capitol Towers Historic District from experts such as:
- Barry Wasserman, FAIA; Former California State Architect; Professor Emeritus,
California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, Department of Architecture.
- Wayne Donaldson, FAIA; appointed in 2010 by President Barack Obama as Chairman
of the National Advisory Council on Historic Preservation.
- Richard Peters; FAIA; Professor Emeritus of Architecture at the University of
California, Berkeley; noted author and expert on the work of William Wurster.
- Charles Birnbaum, FASLA, FAAR; coordinator of the National Park Service Historic
Landscape Initiative (HLI); noted author and landscape historian; Visiting Professor at
the Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture Planning + Preservation.
- Alan Hess, AIA; noted author and architectural historian.
- Pierluigi Serraino, AIA; noted author and architectural historian.
Their letters — and other letters of support — are attached to this response.
Additional facts and information regarding Capitol Towers Historic District can be found
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in an article, “Capitol Towers - Sacramento’s Modernist Gem,” published Winter 2015 in
California Garden & Landscape History Society’s quarterly journal, Eden. (Also
attached.)
This article was written by Flora Chou, LEEP AP, and national board member of
Docomomo US, the United States chapter of Docomomo International, a non-profit
organization dedicated to the documentation and conservation of buildings, sites and
neighborhoods of the modern movement. Ms. Chou also wrote the nomination for
Capitol Towers Historic District that was accepted by the Keeper of the National
Register.
Capitol Towers Historic District Includes Landscaping and Additional
Contributing Elements
The historical resources in Capitol Towers Historic District are not simply limited to
buildings. The site’s landscape design is also an integral part. The District also includes
contributing resources such as:
-
the central plaza;
secondary courtyards;
landscape courts;
small scale features;
swimming pool;
circular fountain;
spatial organization;
building placement and relationships;
circulation;
landscape features;
views and vistas; and,
the sculptural wall by Jacques Overhoff;
Sacramento Commons’ proposed move of the historical sculptural wall is unnecessary
and exposes it to the potential for irreparable damage. SacMod cautions that potential
harm may occur should there be an attempt to relocate it, and asks the Applicant and
City to provide appropriate expert consultations before such an attempt is made.
Tree Canopy
Sacramento Commons removes the majority of Capitol Towers Historic District’s
greenspaces and trees — and replaces it with cement and younger, and less robust
vegetation.
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The tree canopy is the first Sacramento asset that Mayor Kevin Johnson mentions in his
“Mayor’s Message” on the City of Sacramento’s website:
“… We have so much to be proud of, like our unique and diverse neighborhoods,
our thousands of beautiful trees….”
On September 4, 2014, Ray Tretheway, President of the Sacramento Tree Foundation
wrote to the Planning and Design Commission:
“The City of Sacramento needs to aggressively address Urban Heat Island
effects through the expansion and protection of our urban forest canopy. The 10
warmest years on record have occurred since 1998 (NOAA State of the Climate
Global Analysis 2012). To address this trend, the City needs to redouble its
efforts to aggressively mitigate and reduce the adverse impacts of Urban Heat
Islands. These impacts include air quality issues, water and energy usage and
public health issues. An aggressive expansion of our urban tree canopy will
make direct contributions to the long-term livability of our city and the health of all
city residents….
We desire a City where greenspaces and trees are valued for the benefits they
provide and are planned for as part of the city’s infrastructure. Green spaces and
green canopy create a sense of calm and sense of place, making city life more
sane and secure.
Infill development is important but should not occur at the expense or elimination
of the City’s richest, defining legacy: the greenspaces and tree canopy that
defines the essence of our public realm….”
SacMod’s research indicates that extraordinary measures by the Capitol Towers Historic
District design team were taken to preserve pre-existing heritage trees on site. The
Commons project should not harm Sacramento’s urban tree canopy, which is a vitally
important contributor to cooling Downtown’s microclimate. Trees help remove pollution,
which is an important public health benefit. In a recent article, the research and
innovation director for the Sacramento Tree Foundation recently explained the
additional public benefits associated with our urban trees.
Testimony from a former City of Sacramento Arborist for Urban Forest Services at the
July 24, 2014 City of Sacramento’s Planning and Design Commission should receive
full attention. The arborist warned that Sacramento Commons, as planned, would create
a substantial impact on the environment by creating an urban heat island. The removal
of over 200 trees (including heritage trees) on site would result in the loss of oxygen and
public health benefits. The arborist also pointed out that replacement trees have failed
to thrive in other Sacramento developments and therefore are not an effective
alternative/mitigation strategy.
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“Understanding Tree Cover by Land Use in Sacramento”
According to Earthdefine, Capitol Towers Historic District, located in the Central
Business District, has a tree canopy of 33.3%. Per Earthdefine’s “Understanding Tree
Cover by Land Use in Sacramento,”:
“Sacramento’s urban forest covers 16.5% of its area with a total tree canopy
cover of 10,506 acres. This map shows the distribution of tree cover between
different land use classes. Suburban low density neighborhoods contain most of
the trees in Sacramento while traditional low density neighborhoods have the
highest average percent tree cover. The table lists the average values for tree
cover for each land use class.”
Per Earthdefine, the urban forest coverage for the Central Business District is 19.5%.
Why would the City of Sacramento be in favor of destroying the 33.3% tree canopy and
park neighborhood in Capitol Towers Historic District?
Sacramento Commons is NOT Exempt From Full CEQA Review
SacMod challenges the misinterpretation of CEQA law by the Applicant and Applicant’s
agents. Sacramento Commons inappropriately categorizes as a Sustainable
Communities project but it does not qualify.
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Nor does the Sacramento Commons project meet the criteria for housing infill. Thus,
the project does not qualify for or comply with the streamlining provisions for “infill
projects” set forth in CEQA law.
This project must bear the full scrutiny and review mandated by CEQA law. There is no
applicable exemption to CEQA for this project.
Sacramento Commons is NOT a Sustainable Community Project (Public
Resources Code Sections 21155, et seq., do NOT Apply)
Applicant improperly seeks to characterize this project as a “transit priority
project” (TPP) under Public Resources Code Sections 21155, et seq., in an attempt to
evade application of CEQA law. Sacramento Commons is not a TPP. Capitol Towers
Historic District and neighborhood — as it was built over fifty years ago — already
meets TPP qualifications.
As attorney Brian Turner with the National Trust for Historic Preservation (NTHP)
correctly points out in his Notice of Preparation letter to the City dated September 5,
2014 (Attached): “The square footage, density, and proximity to a major transit facility
already qualify this existing development as a Transit Priority Project.”
It therefore is of little significance that Sacramento Commons espouses to achieve TPP
goals. Public policy should not reward the destruction of one TPP site for the creation of
another. The net effect would be an increase, not decrease, in greenhouse emissions
(as opposed to developing a TPP in an otherwise noncompliant location).
Sacramento Commons essentially seeks to avail itself of the benefits conferred on a
TPP through the destruction of a historical and architecturally significant site that
managed to achieve the goals and benefits of a TPP long before such classification was
statutorily conceived.
Moreover, even if Sacramento Commons was considered a TPP, the project is not
exempt from CEQA law because it has a significant effect on a historical resource
(destruction of Capitol Towers Historic District and neighborhood). Pursuant to Public
Resources Code Section 21155.1, a TPP project may be exempt from CEQA law ONLY
IF it meets certain specifically defined criteria. One such criteria is that the project “not
have a significant effect on historical resources pursuant to Section 21084.1.” Public
Resources Code Section 21155.1(a)(5).
Pursuant to Section 21084.1, the project site is deemed a historical resource as a result
of being listed in the California Register of Historical Resources.
Public Resources Code Section 21084.1 specifically states: “A project that may cause a
substantial adverse change in the significance of an historical resource is a project that
may have a significant effect on the environment. For purposes of this section, an
historical resource is a resource listed in, or determined to be eligible for listing in, the
California Register of Historical Resources.”
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The Sacramento Commons project most certainly has a significant effect on historical
resources. Therefore, Public Resources Code Section 21084.1 prevails and makes the
project ineligible to be a Transit Priority Project.
Finally, if the Sacramento Commons project is considered a TPP, which it assuredly is
not, it is NOT a sustainable communities project. The project site exceeds the
maximum acreage (8 acres) to qualify as a sustainable community. Public Resources
Code Section 21155.1(b)(1). The project also exceeds the maximum residential units
allowed by law (200 units). Public Resources Code Section 21155.1(b)(2). And it
appears that Sacramento Commons will result in a net loss of affordable housing,
contrary to the goals and requirements set for sustainable communities. Public
Resources Code Section 21155.1(b)(3). A sustainable communities project must also
assure adequate levels of low-income housing (20%) and/or open space (5 acres per
1,000 residents); assurances not made by Applicant here. See Public Resources Code
Section 21155.1(c). Therefore, Sacramento Commons is NOT an exempt sustainable
communities project.
Sacramento Commons is NOT an Infill Project Entitled to Special Streamlined
CEQA Review (Public Resources Code Section 21159.21, et seq., do NOT Apply)
Public Resources Code Sections 21159.21, et seq., provide streamlined environmental
review for certain housing projects. Applicant improperly seeks to avail itself of the
streamlined review procedures provided for in the Act. But even the most cursory
review of the statute makes clear that it does not apply to Sacramento Commons. As
with the TPP exemption, streamlined review is available ONLY IF: “The project does not
have a significant effect on historical resources pursuant to Section 21084.1.” Public
Resources Code Section 21159.21(g).
Again, this site is deemed a historical resource pursuant to Public Resources Code
Section 21084.1 as a result of its listing on the California Register of Historical
Resources. Thus, the special housing project exemption to CEQA law does not apply.
In complete disregard of the historical resource status of the project site, Applicant
insists that Sacramento Commons is an infill project entitled to streamlined review under
Public Resources Code Section 21159.24. Section 21159.24 is inapplicable where, as
is the case here, the project fails to satisfy the initial criteria set forth under Section
21159.21. See Public Resources Code Section 21159.24(a)(3). Applicant cannot
ignore the historic district’s status. Any exemption is negated as a result of Capitol
Towers’ eligibility on the California Register of Historical Resources.
Even if Applicant was entitled to streamlined review under Public Resources Code
Section 21159.24(a) — which it is not — new information relative to the historic eligibility
of the site must be subject to CEQA review. See Public Resources Code Section
21159.24(b)(3). Applicant is not permitted to ignore the historical resources, nor may
the City do so.
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Finally, the project is not truly “residential” for purposes of streamlined review. Section
21159.24(d) defines “residential” as a project either consisting solely of residential units
or residential with not more than 25% of the space dedicated to “primarily
neighborhood-serving” businesses. Applicant readily admits the project is not intended
solely for residential purposes. Nor though will the business use be “primarily
neighborhood-serving.” It is believed and understood from on-site investigation
conducted by SacMod that Applicant will force out most of the truly local businesses
serving the needs of the residents and replace them with franchises aimed at
generating business from customers off site and the greater downtown area.
Regardless of whether the project is residential, infill, transportation-oriented, or
otherwise, the simple fact remains that this project is subject to the full scope of review
afforded by CEQA law because Capitol Towers Historic District and neighborhood is a
historical resource. Significant impacts to the historical resource, as intended by
Applicant, must be mitigated.
Applicant is NOT Exempt From Considering Alternative Locations and Densities
as Mitigation
In a final effort to avoid responsible stewardship of the historical resource, Applicant
contends it need not consider offsite alternatives or changes in density to mitigate the
significant impact the proposed project will have on Capitol Towers Historic District and
neighborhood. [DEIR 5.1.1 “Pursuant to both Public Resources Code section
21155.2(c)(2) and 21094.5(b)(1) this EIR is not required to evaluate an offsite alternative
even if adequate offsite locations were available and the project proponent could obtain
control of such locations.”]
However, this too is a flawed assertion by the Applicant. It again seeks to rely upon
sustainable communities classification as a basis for avoiding consideration of all
means of mitigation. As previously discussed, the project does not qualify as a
sustainable community project or TPP. Therefore, Public Resources Code Section
21155.2(c)(2) is inapplicable. Similarly, the offsite mitigation limitation provided for in
Public Resources Code Section 21094.5 is intended to promote establishment of a
sustainable community project. Offsite mitigation need not be considered IF “a
sustainable communities environmental assessment could not be otherwise adopted.”
Public Resources Code Section 21094.5(b). That is not an issue here, the site already
qualifies as a sustainable community and TPP. If Applicant’s approach were adopted,
every existing TPP could be readily altered, modified or destroyed regardless of the
environmental and historical resource impacts under the guise of re-qualifying as a
sustainable community. Nothing could be less sustainable.
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Appendix A — SACOG’S “Consistency Determination” Letter —
is Invalid on Numerous Counts
On December 8, 2014, SACOG (Sacramento Area Council of Governments ) wrote that
it determined that Sacramento Commons is “consistent” with the Metropolitan
Transportation Plan/Sustainable Communities Strategy (MTP/SCS) [Attachment 8
Appendix A of Sacramento Commons DEIR].
This determination is invalid because:
1. SACOG’s analysis, based on modified computations from a worksheet dated July
31, 2012, completely ignores the existence of the historical resources on the
proposed Sacramento Commons project site;
2. SACOG’s letter pre-dates the Keeper of the National Register of Historic Places
determination on December 31, 2014 that the site is eligible to be listed on the
National Register and — consequently — is automatically listed on the California
Register of Historical Resources.
3. SACOG’s determination relies on the misinterpretation of CEQA law by the Applicant
and Applicant’s agents that inappropriately categorizes Sacramento Commons as a
Sustainable Communities project.
Capitol Towers Historic District and Neighborhood Already Embodies
the Standards, Principles, and Intentions that Sacramento Commons
Seeks to Achieve
SACOG MTP/SCS
Capitol Towers Historic District and neighborhood — as it was built over fifty years ago
— already meets the key “Blueprint” principles that are the foundation for the SACOG’s
Metropolitan Transportation Plan/Sustainable Communities Strategy (MTP/SCS).
These principles are:
• providing a variety of transportation choices;
• offering housing choices and opportunities;
• taking advantage of compact development;
• using existing assets;
• mixed land uses;
• preserving open space, farmland and natural beauty through natural resources
conservation; and
• encouraging distinctive, attractive communities with quality design.
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As NTHP Attorney Brian Turner notes in his September 5, 2014 letter to the City, Capitol
Towers Historic District:
“… already embodies the seven interlocking principles of the Sacramento Area
Council of Governments Blueprint including compact development, housing and
transportation choices, mixed use development, quality design and conservation of
natural resources….”
Former State Architect Barry Wasserman, FAIA, testified to the State Historical
Resources Commission on November 7, 2014 that Capitol Towers is, in fact, an early
and groundbreaking model for mixed use planning:
“When I was state architect and in charge of developing the Capitol area plan, which
has received international recognition and has held up over the last 25 years, Capitol
Towers was an example of the kind of residential development and spacial
development that fit the climate that we used as a underpinning for all that we did
afterwards…. One of the things that I emphasize as a teacher is the importance of
the space between buildings being just as important as the buildings themselves. In
this case, Wurster's buildings are significant because they really represent the
architecture of Central California of that time. But the spaces between the buildings,
the landscape design is absolutely an example of what we should be doing in the
future. It's what we tried to do in the Capitol area, it's what I'd like to see continue in
all sustainable development in Sacramento.”
Indeed, MTP/SCS 2035 Sacramento Area Council of Governments Draft Environmental
Impact Report (Chapter 7 – Cultural Resources – Page 7-52) favors mitigation that
acknowledges historic districts and adaptive re-use — something that Sacramento
Commons DEIR refuses to consider:
“If avoidance of a significant architectural/built environment resource is not feasible,
additional mitigation options include, but are not limited to, specific design plans for
historic districts, or plans for alteration or adaptive re-use of a historical resource that
follows the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for the Treatment of Historic
Properties with Guidelines for Preserving, Rehabilitation, Restoring, and
Reconstructing Historic Buildings. Adaptive re-use or other measures developed
consistent with the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards will reduce impacts to a less
than significant level unless such measures are unable to avoid materially altering
the physical characteristics creating the resource’s historical significance in an
adverse manner.”
2035 GENERAL PLAN
Capitol Towers Historic District and neighborhood — as it was built over fifty years ago
— already meets standards for the 2035 General Plan for development in the Central
Business District.
4.20.15 - SacMod Response to DEIR: Sacramento Commons (P14-012)
Page 15
According to the 2035 General Plan Final MEIR dated February 24, 2015:
“In adopting the City of Sacramento 2035 General Plan, the City of Sacramento
seeks to achieve the following objectives, consistent with the objectives stated in the
current 2030 General Plan.
• Character of Place. Preserve and enhance Sacramento’s quality of life and
character as a city with diverse residential neighborhoods, an extensive urban
forest, and role as the center of California’s governance.
• Smart Growth. Encourage future growth in the city inward into existing urbanized
areas and the central business district to foster infill development, as well as
encourage density of development and integration of housing with commercial,
office, and entertainment uses that fosters increased walking and reduced
automobile use.
• Live More Lightly. Strive to meet the intent of Assembly Bill 32, California Global
Warming Solutions Act of 2006, by reducing carbon emissions that contribute to
global warming by encouraging “green” building practices, use of solar energy
systems, and developing a land use pattern that supports walking, biking, and
public transit.
• Maintain a Vibrant Economy. Support a diversity of business and employment
opportunities by retaining existing and attraction of new businesses; maintain and
expand recreational, arts, and cultural facilities; and nurture diverse community
events and celebrations.
• Healthy Cities. Preserve and enhance land use patterns and densities that foster
pedestrian and bicycle use and recreation through expanded parklands, sports,
and athletic programming as well as provide incentives for expanding the
availability of organic foods, and protecting residents from crime and natural or
terrorist acts.
• Sustainable Future. Accommodate growth that protects important environmental
resources as well as ensures long-term economic sustainability and health, and
equity or social wellbeing for the entire community.”
Capitol Towers Historic District and neighborhood already embodies all of these core
principles with its diverse housing choices; extensive urban forest; mixed-use planning
and award-winning design for smart growth; high density; proximity to transit and carfree bicycle and pedestrian areas; open, park-like green spaces and gathering places.
In particular, SacMod would like to address the key issue of sustainability among the
2035 General Plan MEIR core policies: there is nothing less sustainable than destroying
perfectly good, functional, historical buildings in an established community. Simply
adding density after demolishing a livable community does not make a project more
sustainable. Merely labeling a project sustainable does not necessarily make it so.
4.20.15 - SacMod Response to DEIR: Sacramento Commons (P14-012)
Page 16
Many of the proposed concepts expressed in Sacramento Commons DEIR would result
in an increase of energy and resource consumption — and are simply a repackaging
and reselling of attributes and amenities that already exist or can be further enhanced
on the historic site.
As NTHP Attorney Brian Turner notes in his September 5, 2014 letter to the City, Capitol
Towers Historic District:
“… Indeed, the existing Capitol Tower and Garden Apartments offer an outstanding
example of what is prescribed by the 2030 General Plan for development in the
CBD: a mixture of mid‐ and high‐rise sited to positively define the public streetscape,
public parks and open space areas within walking distance of local residents, broad
sidewalks appointed with appropriate pedestrian amenities, and consistent planting
of street trees providing shade and enhancing character and identity.”
Additionally, Mr. Turner advised the City:
“The National Trust’s Preservation Green Lab has evaluated the environmental
impacts of building reuse compared to demolition and new construction for a variety
of building types, notably in our publication The Greenest Building: Quantifying the
Environmental Value of Building Reuse. This study found that building reuse typically
offers significant environmental savings over new construction ‐‐ even when that
new construction is energy efficient. Indeed, building reuse can offer climate change
savings and reductions in resource depletion when compared to new construction.”
Per that study’s Executive Summary:
“It is often assumed that the CO2-reduction benefits gained by a new, energy
efficient building outweigh any negative climate change impacts associated with the
construction of that building. This study finds that it takes 10 to 80 years for a new
building that is 30 percent more efficient than an average-performing existing
building to overcome, through efficient operations, the negative climate change
impacts related to the construction process.”
How will the City of Sacramento test the applicant’s assertion that the project is
“sustainable” to make sure that there is factual evidence and expert scientific evaluation
to support this claim?
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Page 17
DEIR Project Objectives were Already Met Before Sacramento
Commons was Conceived
Capitol Towers Historic and neighborhood — as it was built over fifty years ago —
already meets the Project Objectives outlined in Sacramento Commons DEIR:
The project objectives for the Sacramento Commons project are to:
intensify an existing urban downtown residential community close to urban
amenities (e.g., shopping, services, transit, entertainment, and cultural attractions);
▶
Capitol Towers Historic District already achieves this goal, which can be further
intensified without destroying historic resources.
▶ support investment and reinvestment in downtown Sacramento, particularly with
provision of more residential uses;
intensify an existing infill development project with a new project that includes
additional residential uses near the major employment centers of downtown
Sacramento;
▶
These goals can be achieved through proactive stewardship of the existing Historic
District consistent with the U.S. Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for the Treatment
of Historic Properties — and can be further intensified without destroying the majority of
historic resources.
provide high-density residential uses that utilize surrounding transit services and
provide access to a variety of transportation modes;
▶
Capitol Towers Historic District already achieves this goal.
▶
enhance pedestrian movement through the central portions of the project site;
Capitol Towers Historic District already achieves this goal, which can be further
intensified without destroying historic resources.
provide additional housing choices for Sacramento’s diverse population, and
supporting retail and other commercial services for the residents and guests of the
proposed development;
▶
Capitol Towers Historic District already has a large variety of housing choices and
thereby achieves this goal.
▶ provide
open space areas that support uses on-site and provide places for
community gathering, activity, privacy, and connectivity;
4.20.15 - SacMod Response to DEIR: Sacramento Commons (P14-012)
Page 18
Capitol Towers Historic District already achieves this goal.
provide development that is consistent with the City of Sacramento’s General Plan
and the Sacramento Area Council of Governments (SACOG) Metropolitan
Transportation Plan/Sustainable Communities Strategy (MTP/SCS); and
▶
Capitol Towers Historic District already achieves this goal.
incorporate sustainability features that help the City and region achieve its
sustainability targets, while enhancing the livability of the community.
▶
This goal can be achieved without destroying the Historic District.
PUD Guideline Improvements and Amenities
Capitol Towers Historic District already has — or can easily integrate — the
improvements and amenities touted by Sacramento Commons without destroying
historical resources. These include: open promenades; gathering areas; street lighting,
furnishings, amenities; public art; retail spaces; signage; specialty market; for-sale
condos; water efficiency; energy efficiency; climate-appropriate planting; low-impact
design features; retail kiosk; live-work units; fixed and movable seating areas; bicycle
parking facilities; a rooftop garden; shade structure; and water run-off management.
4.20.15 - SacMod Response to DEIR: Sacramento Commons (P14-012)
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Density of Capitol Towers Historic District and Neighborhood
Capitol Towers Historic District and neighborhood encompasses four city blocks.
It includes:
1) Capitol Towers Historic District - 409 units - 10.13 acres
(source: SacCommons DEIR)
Parcel 00603000040000
Parcel 00603000030000
Parcel 00603000020000
- 10.13 acres per DEIR
2) Bridgeway - 134 units (source: SacCommons DEIR)
Parcel 00603000070000 (42689 sq ft - source: SacCounty Assessor)
- 0.98 acres
3) Pioneer - 198 units (source: SacCommons DEIR)
Parcel 00603000050000 (55757 sq ft - source: SacCounty Assessor)
- 1.28 acres
Total Units = 741 units
Total Acres = 12.39 acres
Current units per net acre calculation = 59.8
This number — 59.8 for the established Capitol Towers Historic District and
neighborhood — is remarkably close to complying with the Central Business District
minimum density intended for new developments (61 units per net acre pursuant to the
2030 General Plan). As a matter of fact, Capitol Towers Historic District and
neighborhood is already one of the densest areas of downtown Sacramento, second
only to Sacramento County Jail, according to U.S. Census data.
Sacramento Commons seeks to shoehorn more density in an area that already and
essentially conforms with the 2030 General Plan.
Why would the City be in favor of destroying the second densest area of downtown
Sacramento?
4.20.15 - SacMod Response to DEIR: Sacramento Commons (P14-012)
Page 20
City of Sacramento has Already Granted Entitlements Elsewhere to
Achieve Density Objective
Table 1: SACRAMENTO COMMONS : COMPETING DENSITY PROJECTS *
Name
Location
# Units
Source
16 Powerhouse
16th & P
50 CADA
515 T Street
515 T Street
14 Sac. Business Journal
700 K Street
700 K Street
137 Sac. Business Journal
1500 S Street
1500 S Street
76 Sac. Business Journal
Whole Foods
21st & L
2500 R Street
2500 R Street
34 Sac. Business Journal
Broadway Triangle
39th & Broadway
29 Sac. Business Journal
Cathedral Square
11th & J
233 Sac. Business Journal
Crystal Ice Blocks
16th/17th & R
150 Sacramento Bee
Curtis Park Village
Sutterville & 24th Street
510 Petrovich Development
Downtown Plaza
5th/7th & J/K
550 Sac. Business Journal
Eviva
16th & N
118 Sac. Business Journal
Hall of Justice
813 6th Street
42 Sac. Business Journal
Hyatt Place (Marshall)
1122 7th Street
15 Sacramento Bee
i15
1431 I Street
96 Sac. Business Journal
La Valentina
12th & D
81 Domus Development
Legado de Ravel
16th & O
84 CADA
McKinley Village
East Sac/Bus I-80
336 McKinley Village
Mercy Housing
7th & H Streets
150 Sac. Business Journal
Pacifica Senior Artists
700 16th
160 Sac. Business Journal
Sutter Park
East Sac/F Street
125 Sac. Business Journal
Tapestri Square
2010 20th Street
58 Sac. Business Journal
The Arbors @ Oak Park
3820 Broadway
56 Sac. Business Journal
The Creamery
D & 10th
The Docks
Front Street
4.20.15 - SacMod Response to DEIR: Sacramento Commons (P14-012)
140 Sac. Business Journal
117 Sac. Business Journal
1155 City of Sacramento
Page 21
(TABLE 1: CONTINUED FROM PREVIOUS PAGE)
Name
Location
The Metropolitan
10th & J
The Mill @ Broadway
2630 5th
The Ridgeway
912/914 12th Street
The River District
(includes Township 9
+ Twin Rivers)
south of the American
River and north of the
Railyards above
Downtown Sacramento
Union Pacific Railyards
north of Downtown and
south of the River
District
Warehouse Artists Lofts
11th & R
# Units
Source
320-380 Sac. Business Journal
968 Thomas Law
22 Sac. Business Journal
8144 City of Sacramento
12000 Mosaic Partners
116 CADA
TOTAL # NEW / ENTITLED UNITS IN OR CLOSE TO CENTRAL CITY
=
26,146
ADDITIONAL PROJECTS NEARBY *
Name
Location
# Units
Source
Delta Shores
I-5 & Beach Lake Road
South Sacramento
Mutual Housing
Stockton Blvd
South Sacramento
Greenbriar
Natomas
3000 Thomas Law
North Natomas
Natomas
2119 City of Sacramento
Bridge District
West Sacramento
4000 The Bridge District
Capitol Yards
West Sacramento
Delta Lane
West Sacramento
71-177 Sac. Business Journal
Landmark Lofts
West Sacramento
60 Sac. Business Journal
Pioneer Bluff
incl Stone Locke
West Sacramento
TOTAL # NEW / ENTITLED UNITS NEARBY
5200 Merlone Geier
120 Sac. Business Journal
270 City of West
Sacramento
5000 SACOG
2000
=
21,946
* not necessarily complete lists; table data are known projects as of 4.15.15
4.20.15 - SacMod Response to DEIR: Sacramento Commons (P14-012)
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Sacramento Commons DEIR is Inconsistent with City of Sacramento
and Regional Policies
Sacramento Commons is inconsistent with the following City of Sacramento policies:
2030 General Plan Policy LU 1.1.5 Infill Development.
“The City shall promote and provide incentives (e.g., focused infill planning, zoning/
rezoning, revised regulations, provision of infrastructure) for infill development,
redevelopment, mining reuse, and growth in existing urbanized areas to enhance
community character, optimize City investments in infrastructure and community
facilities, support increased transit use, promote pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly
neighborhoods, increase housing diversity, ensure integrity of historic districts, and
enhance retail viability.”
Capitol Towers Historic District is an established and successful mixed use residential
community; pedestrian and bicycle-friendly; is already Transit Priority Project compliant;
and is inhabited, recently rehabilitated, and fully economically viable. Why would the
City be in favor of destroying an established and successful mixed use community that
complies with the City’s goals as stated above?
2030 General Plan Policy LU 2.1.1: City of Neighborhoods.
“Recognizing that Sacramento’s neighborhoods are the basic living environments
that make-up the city’s urban fabric, the City shall strive through its planning and
urban design to preserve and enhance their distinctiveness, identity, and livability
from the downtown core to well integrated new growth areas.”
2030 General Plan Policy LU 2.1.2: Protect Established Neighborhoods.
“The City shall preserve, protect, and enhance established neighborhoods by
providing sensitive transitions between these neighborhoods and adjoining areas,
and requiring new development, both private and public, to respect and respond to
those existing physical characteristics, buildings, streetscapes, open spaces, and
urban form that contribute to the overall character and livability of the neighborhood.”
Capitol Towers Historic District is an established park neighborhood. Does the City only
believe this applies to single family homes? It should apply to apartment communities
as well. Why would the City be in favor of destroying an established park
neighborhood? Why wouldn’t the City be encouraging a sense of community and
creating more civic pride that is associated with a historic district?
4.20.15 - SacMod Response to DEIR: Sacramento Commons (P14-012)
Page 23
2030 General Plan Goal LU 2.3: City of Trees and Open Spaces.
“Maintain multi-functional “green infrastructure” consisting of natural areas, open
space, urban forest, and parkland, which serves as a defining physical feature of
Sacramento, provides visitors and residents with access to open space and
recreation, and is designed for environmental sustainability.”
Sacramento Commons removes the majority of Capitol Towers Historic District’s 33.3%
tree canopy with old-growth, established greenspaces and trees — and replaces it with
cement and younger, and less robust vegetation. Why would the City of Sacramento be
in favor of destroying the 33.3% tree canopy and park neighborhood at Capitol Towers
Historic District?
2030 General Plan Goal LU 2.4: City of Distinctive and Memorable Places.
“Promote community design that produces a distinctive, high-quality built
environment whose forms and character reflect Sacramento’s unique historic,
environmental, and architectural context, and create memorable places that enrich
community life.”
2030 General Plan Policy LU 2.4.1: Unique Sense of Place.
“The City shall promote quality site, architectural and landscape design that
incorporates those qualities and characteristics that make Sacramento desirable and
memorable including: walkable blocks, distinctive parks and open spaces, tree-lined
streets, and varied architectural styles.”
2030 General Plan Policy LU 2.4.2: Responsiveness to Context.
“The City shall require building design that respects and responds to the local
context, including use of local materials where feasible, responsiveness to
Sacramento’s climate, and consideration of cultural and historic context of
Sacramento’s neighborhoods and centers.”
Capitol Towers Historic District is an established, distinctive, and memorable community
that reflects Sacramento’s unique historical, environmental, and architectural context.
The historic district is a rare example of urban planning and design from the
redevelopment era and, in particular, Northern California Regionalism that directly
responds to Sacramento’s climate. These are expressed in its broad overhangs, shade
trees, and celebration of outdoor living. It was envisioned and pioneered at the human
scale, with landscape and architecture designed to enhance the livability for residents,
neighbors to the site, and the larger community, thereby providing a public benefit to the
entire City of Sacramento. Why wouldn’t the City be encouraging a unique sense of
place and creating more civic pride that is associated with this historic district?
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Page 24
2030 General Plan Goal HCR 1.1: Comprehensive City Preservation Program.
“Maintain a comprehensive, citywide preservation program to identify, protect, and
assist in the preservation of Sacramento’s historic and cultural resources.”
2030 General Plan Policy HCR 2.1.1 Identification.
“The City shall identify historic and cultural resources including individual properties,
districts, and sites (e.g., archaeological sites) to provide adequate protection of
these resources.”
2030 General Plan Policy HCR 2.1.2 Applicable Laws and Regulations.
“The City shall ensure that City, State, and Federal historic preservation laws,
regulations, and codes are implemented, including the California Historical Building
Code and State laws related to archaeological resources, to ensure the adequate
protection of these resources.”
2030 General Plan Policy HCR 2.1.8 Historic Preservation Enforcement.
“The City shall ensure that City enforcement procedures and activities comply with
local, State, and Federal historic and cultural preservation requirements.”
2030 General Plan Policy HCR 2.1.14 Demolition.
“The City shall consider demolition of historic resources as a last resort, to be
permitted only if rehabilitation of the resource is not feasible, demolition is necessary
to protect the health, safety, and welfare of its residents, or the public benefits
outweigh the loss of the historic resource.”
2030 General Plan Policy CC.HCR 1.1 Preservation
“The City shall support programs for the preservation of historically and
architecturally significant structures which are important to the unique character of
the Central City.”
As described in great length in the earlier part of SacMod’s response, Capitol Towers is
a historic district pursuant to Federal and State law. It has been formally determined
eligible to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is listed on the
California Register of Historical Resources. The City of Sacramento Preservation
Director and Preservation Commission determined it should be a landmark and voted in
favor of placing it on the Sacramento Register of Historic and Cultural Resources.
What has the City done to ensure that project alternatives and measures are taken to
preserve the historical resources in Capitol Towers Historic District? These would
include exploring decreased density options and alternative sites. How has Applicant
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Page 25
demonstrated that they need the proposed number of units for the project? Is the
proposed Phasing indicated in the DEIR realistic? How has the City ensured that viable
project alternatives have been thoroughly explored and considered? Most certainly,
Sacramento Commons DEIR has failed to do so.
2030 General Plan Policy LU 5.6.2 Family-Friendly Downtown.
“The City shall promote the CBD as a family-friendly area by requiring the
development of a variety of housing types, daycare and school facilities, familyoriented services, and parks, plazas, and open spaces that will safely and
comfortably accommodate those who wish to raise a family.”
Sacramento Commons, as described by the Applicant during separate meetings with
community groups, is not being built to be family-friendly. Their target demographic is
young, single, higher-income, and childless.
2030 General Plan Policy H-3 5.6.2 Preservation Options (Affordable Housing).
“In addition to identifying units at risk of converting to market rate housing,
Government Code Section 65583(a)(8)(B) requires a comparison of costs to replace
lost units through construction or rehabilitation to the cost of preserving the existing
units. Preservation of the at-risk units can be achieved in several ways, including 1)
facilitating a transfer of ownership of these projects to affordable housing
organizations; 2) purchasing of affordability covenants; and 3) providing rental
assistance to tenants.”
What measures is the Applicant and City taking to ensure that preservation of similarly
affordable housing for displaced Capitol Towers residents is achieved?
Policy CC.H 1.1 Mixed Use Buildings.
“The City shall provide the opportunity for mixture of housing with other uses in the
same building or on the same site at selected locations to capitalize on the
advantages of close-in living. The City of Sacramento General Plan, Land Use and
Urban Design section contains key urban form characteristics envisioned for
development within the Central Business District:
1. A mixture of mid- and high-rise buildings, creating a varied and dramatic skyline
with unlimited heights;
2. Lot coverage generally not exceeding 90%;
3. Buildings are sited to positively define the public streetscape and public spaces;
4. Building facades and entrances directly addressing the street and a high degree
of transparency;
5. An interconnected street system providing for traffic and route flexibility;
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Page 26
6. Vertical and horizontal integration of residential uses;
7. Public parks and open space areas within walking distance of local residents;
8. Parking is integrated into buildings or placed in separate structures;
9. Minimal or no curb cuts along primary streets;
10. Side or rear access to parking and service functions;
11. Broad sidewalks appointed with appropriate pedestrian amenities, including
sidewalk restaurant/café seating;
12. Street design integrating pedestrian, bicycle, transit and vehicular use and
incorporates traffic-calming features and on-street parking.”
Capitol Towers Historic District already embodies these principles.
Sacramento Area Council of Governments MTP/SCS 2035 DEIRMitigation Measure CR-1: Conduct historical resource studies and identify and
implement project-specific mitigation.
“If the Historical Survey Report indicates that NRHP, CRHR or locally listed or
eligible historical resources exist in the project study area, the implementing agency
should consider avoidance as the primary mitigation measure. If avoidance is
possible, mitigation is complete, and the impact to historical resources would be less
than significant (LS).
If avoidance of a significant architectural/built environment resource is not feasible,
additional mitigation options include, but are not limited to, specific design plans for
historic districts, or plans for alteration or adaptive re-use of a historical resource that
follows the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for the Treatment of Historic
Properties with Guidelines for Preserving, Rehabilitation, Restoring, and
Reconstructing Historic Buildings. Adaptive re-use or other measures developed
consistent with the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards will reduce impacts to a less
than significant level unless such measures are unable to avoid materially altering
the physical characteristics creating the resource’s historical significance in an
adverse manner. If the implementing agency determines these measures cannot
avoid such material alterations to the physical characteristics creating the resource’s
historical significance, then the impact would remain potentially significant (PS).”
As previously discussed, Capitol Towers Historic District already embodies the nine
goals of Sacramento Commons’ DEIR. It is therefore possible to mitigate impacts to a
lesser degree than what is offered in the DEIR. The DEIR fails to recognize and
inappropriately dismisses other viable project alternatives.
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Applicant has a Demonstrated History of “Flipping” Properties and
has Virtually NO Development Experience
Evidence of Applicant’s track record of flipping a property and abandonment after
receiving entitlements can be found in its presentation dated April 13, 2013, on page 10
— a “Case Study” in Hawaii — The Kohanaiki Golf & Ocean Club, which: “consists of a
450 acre site fronting over 1.5 miles of the Kona Coast of the Big Island of Hawaii.
- Originally acquired by Kennedy Wilson in 1997
- Company gained entitlements in 2004
- Kennedy Wilson sold its interest in the property in 2007; the new owners then
invested approximately $300 million for zoning, engineering, entitlement, and
construction
- Kennedy Wilson reentered partnership in 2011 at a significantly reduced basis.”
KW has virtually no experience doing development. Per the Beverly Hills Planning
Department, KW’s development experience has been limited to minor improvements,
including a request for a Development Plan Review to allow a rooftop lunchroom with
outdoor seating and associated amenities; façade remodel; landscaping; a sign
accommodation for a ground sign; and a sign accommodation to allow business
identification signage. Only a handful of model homes at luxury resort Kohanaiki have
been completed since KW’s repurchase.
Stewardship Issues
While the fate of Capitol Towers Historic District is being decided, SacMod calls upon
the City to ensure that KW proactively maintain and provide necessary repairs to the
neighborhood so that “demolition by neglect” does not occur.
SacMod has received disturbing reports by Capitol Towers residents about practices
such as:
- renting out Villas without disclosure to tenants the site is slated for demolition;
- rent increases with concurrent demise of services;
- site notice for the proposed project was posted but then was removed within 24 hours.
Project Alternatives
As previously demonstrated, the majority of ideas for improvements expressed by the
applicant either already exist at the site or can be accomplished without demolition or
destruction of the historical buildings, the historical structures, the historical
landscaping, and the historical master plan. Demolition and/or alteration of these
historical resources would be a significant and avoidable impact. Applicant’s DEIR
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Page 28
erroneously asserts that it can dismiss alternatives that address density and alternatives
sites. There are many viable alternatives.
As acknowledged in DEIR 5-2, CEQA guidelines “… state that ‘the discussion of
alternatives shall focus on alternatives to the project or its location [that] are capable of
avoiding or substantially lessening any significant effects of the project, even if these
alternatives would impede to some degree the attainment of the project objectives, or
would be more costly’ (CEQA Guidelines, Section 15126.6[b]). Ironically, Sacramento
Commons DEIR fails to comply with this guideline. Throughout the entitlement process,
Applicant has refused to consider such alternatives.
1)
No Project Alternative
Ideally, Sacramento Commons could be built on a more suitable and nearby available
non-historical site that would benefit from such development. KW can modify the project
for a site that is not currently inhabited by a historical resource. KW can build the project
elsewhere in a vacant or available lot that needs enhancement, thereby actually fulfilling
the true goals envisioned and promoted by TPP and infill policies.
Sacramento Commons’ DEIR has chosen not to explore off-site alternatives that would
prevent adverse effects of historical resources, despite the project’s proximity to multiple
large, vacant parcels and lots that contain no historical resources, which are also zoned
for high residential density, and are adjacent to transit lines.
We suggest “The Docks” area would be an ideal location for Sacramento Commons due
to its proximity to the waterfront and the proposed streetcar line. This location has
already been approved for high rise residential. Additional nearby sites where potential
off-site projects could be located include the 3/4 vacant city block across the street from
the site between 7th , 8th , O and P Streets; the city block between 3rd, 4th, R and S
Streets; and the city block at 3rd, 4th, L and Capitol. All are close to existing or planned
transit lines, vacant, and zoned for high density residential use.
Furthermore, the majority of ideas for improvements expressed in the currently
proposed Sacramento Commons development either 1) already exist at the site — or 2)
can be accomplished without wasteful and needless demolition.
The No-Project Alternative is the only alternative that meets the requirements of the City
of Sacramento’s General Plan. The rest of the alternatives in Sacramento Commons’
DEIR violate the City’s Municipal Code Section 17.64.100, prioritizing preservation of
historical resources as a method to sustain and revitalize neighborhoods, enhance the
city’s economic, cultural and aesthetic standing, its identity and its livability,
marketability, and urban character.
4.20.15 - SacMod Response to DEIR: Sacramento Commons (P14-012)
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2)
Historic Stewardship Alternative
KW can embrace and respect the existing historic district’s design and become an
award-winning example of historic stewardship. KW can rehabilitate Capitol Towers
Historic District within the with Guidelines for Preserving, Rehabilitation, Restoring, and
Reconstructing Historic Buildings. Adaptive re-use or other measures developed
consistent with the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards will reduce impacts to a less
than significant level unless such measures are unable to avoid materially altering the
physical characteristics creating the resource’s historical significance in an adverse
manner.
KW can meet most of the expressed objectives in the March 2015 DEIR and March
2015 Planned Unit Development Guidelines by using already existing historical assets
or by adding amenities to the existing historical assets. These objectives can be
achieved by enhancing what is there, not destroying it.
Furthermore, the Applicant is eligible to receive tax credits and incentives to do
improvements and repairs — thanks to the status of the Historic District. There are
benefits and incentives that official National Register designation provides should the
Sacramento Commons project choose to make use of these benefits. Tax credits and
deductions include a 20% Federal tax credit for the rehabilitation of historical incomeproducing properties in accordance with national standards. These incentives are
available to Kennedy Wilson as the owner of the historic district. For more about the
Federal Historic Preservation Tax Credit Program, please see http://ohp.parks.ca.gov/?
page_id=25007. If AB 771 passes, the historic district could also receive additional tax
credits. For more about Historic State Tax Credits, please see http://ohp.parks.ca.gov/?
page_id=27495
3) Adding Density to the Existing Historic District Alternative per SOI Standards
On site, improvements and density could be achieved at the historic district in a manner
that is more respectful and sensitive to the original master plan and design. A balance of
increased density and retention of historical resources could be achieved.
There are ways to create new housing and infill development within a historic district
that meet the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards and City of Sacramento guidelines
regarding infill in historic neighborhoods. The Applicant and Applicant’s agents have not
explored any alternatives with this approach.
For instance, there is opportunity for residential density, parking, and additional retail/
commercial areas and perhaps even a boutique hotel where Parking Garage structure
and adjacent parking lots on the East side of the Historic District are located. This
minimizes impacts to resources within the Historic District. Depending on the skill,
intelligence, and finesse of the approach and design, the advantages in the Historic
Stewardship could apply.
4.20.15 - SacMod Response to DEIR: Sacramento Commons (P14-012)
Page 30
4) Carey & Company Sacramento Commons Preservation Alternatives 1 & 2
(DEIR Appendix D) 15-Story / 24-Story Core Retention Alternatives
Carey and Co.’s November 5, 2014 Preservation Alternatives 1 and 2 (DEIR
Alternatives 2 and 3) allow for some retention of the Historic District while allowing for
demolition of historic resources.
While we consider these alternatives the least desirable of Alternatives 1 through 3
mentioned in our response above, there are some great ideas — such as the
restoration of architectural features from the original Capitol Towers site — that should
be considered and encouraged.
These proposed alternatives did not incorporate residential areas above parking levels
and miss the opportunity for retail and commercial areas on the ground floors, but could
be modified to do so. This would minimize the footprint of parking additions to the site.
Carey and Co.’s proposed alternatives could be improved so that density could be
added while substantially lessening impacts on historical and cultural resources. For
example, the Site B Tower (DEIR Figure 5-2) is currently proposed to have a north/
south alignment and replaces a significant amount of the historical low-rise apartments.
If it was reoriented to the east and west and moved slightly south to the existing parking
lot, it would be a better design that responds to the Sacramento climate (less heat gain)
and would not require demolition of existing historical resources.
Conclusion
SACRAMENTO COMMONS DOES NOT OFFER SUFFICIENT PUBLIC BENEFITS TO
JUSTIFY THE DEMOLITION OF CAPITOL TOWERS HISTORIC DISTRICT.
The demolition of Capitol Towers Historic District is unnecessary. It would be the loss of
a highly successful, established, mixed-use community and park neighborhood that has
been a model for livable downtown housing for over 50 years. It is a thriving, vibrant,
livable and established community that already embodies the standards, principles, and
intentions that Sacramento Commons seeks to achieve. The buildings are inhabited,
recently rehabilitated, and fully economically viable.
Capitol Towers Historic District and neighborhood is already one of the densest areas of
downtown Sacramento, second only to Sacramento County Jail. Sacramento Commons
seeks to shoehorn more density in an area that essentially conforms with the 2030
General Plan. The neighborhood’s overall density is 59.8 units per acre.
Furthermore, the Applicant has claimed that a fundamental reason for the new project is
to increase density of the existing Capitol Towers Historic District site, from
4.20.15 - SacMod Response to DEIR: Sacramento Commons (P14-012)
Page 31
approximately 44 units per acre, compared to the property’s land use category that
recommends a density of 60-450 units per acre. But this land use category is not a strict
limitation on densities allowed in the site, and is intended as an aggregate of
neighborhood density. By comparison, the downtown Entertainment & Sports Complex,
a similarly sized development project under the same land use category, is planned for
a maximum total density of 550 units, or 55 units per acre, and currently only 69 units of
housing are planned for the site, less than 7 units per acre. This zoning category also
includes office and commercial buildings with no residents.
The Applicant, Kennedy Wilson, is unlikely to deliver the currently proposed project after
receiving entitlements and flipping the properties pursuant to its track record. The
Applicant is not a builder, it is a real estate investment trust. It does not plan on being
the builder of this property. This proposal is a Planned Unit Development, intended to
entitle the land for high-rise use, not a formal development plan to actually construct the
buildings. However, there is no long-term requirement for a subsequent purchaser of
that land to follow the PUD if they decide that another use is more beneficial to them —
they only need to submit a new plan to the city that could ignore this plan entirely by
seeking new entitlements. Sacramento Commons is a “flip” of the existing property
based on potential future value that sacrifices the existing, occupied, densely populated,
well-maintained and economically viable apartment complex on the site so Kennedy
Wilson can profit from the speculative future value of the land underneath the buildings.
The demolition of Capitol Towers Historic District unnecessarily destroys a vital
contributor to the City’s urban forest. Our urban forests are linked to the overall health
and wellness of our residents. While other major cities such as New York and Chicago
are seeking innovative ways to add park space to their urban cores (for example High
Line, Pier 55 Park, Millennium Park), Sacramento Commons significantly reduces the
greenspace and tree canopy in the Sacramento Central Business District. Additionally,
there would be loss of park space and open space at human scale in an established
neighborhood that is already pedestrian and bike friendly — and near bus stops and
light rail.
The demolition of Capitol Towers Historic District and replacement with new construction
for Sacramento Commons would increase usage of water, a scarce natural resource
during drought conditions.
Sacramento Commons is surprisingly car-centric. The current number of parking spaces
is 390 for 409 units. This amounts to about .95 spaces for each unit. The proposed
number of parking spaces is 1701 for 1,470 units. This amounts to a higher ratio of
about 1.16 spaces for each unit. This adds a total of 1311 cars to the area — while at
the same time — destroying the urban tree canopy that helps clean the air.
Sacramento Commons will displace hundreds of middle income renters in favor of
higher income renters, forcing them to the suburbs and facilitating longer commutes.
This paradoxically will result in a net increase in greenhouse gasses, not a decrease as
the project’s proponents claim. Additionally, the building of new “luxury” branded
4.20.15 - SacMod Response to DEIR: Sacramento Commons (P14-012)
Page 32
apartments is inconsistent with Mayor Kevin Johnson’s City 3.0 goals regarding income
and housing inequality.
Furthermore, demolition of the historical low-rises at Capitol Towers Historic District
means the loss of 220 reasonably priced apartments that are affordable to working
people, recently restored, currently inhabited and economically viable as they are
currently built. The proposed replacement housing is far more expensive, meaning that
those displaced by demolition would not be able to afford the new project’s rents. Thus,
approval of this project means a loss of affordable housing in the central city that can
only be replaced by later public subsidy in another project.
The demolition of Capitol Towers Historic District and replacement with new construction
is wasteful, unnecessary, and antithetical to the nature of sustainability. As discussed
earlier, it takes 10 to 80 years for a new building that is 30 percent more efficient than
an average-performing existing building to overcome, through efficient operations, the
negative climate change impacts related to the construction process.
The proposed improvements outlined in Sacramento Commons’ March 2015 PUD
Guidelines could be achieved without destroying Capitol Towers Historic District.
Capitol Towers Historic District already has — or can easily integrate — the
improvements and amenities touted by Sacramento Commons without destroying
historical resources.
The City of Sacramento has already granted entitlements elsewhere to achieve its goal
for density. SacMod counted a total of at least 26,146 new or entitled units in or close to
Central City and another 21,946 units nearby in Natomas, South Sacramento, and West
Sacramento.
Sacramento Commons DEIR’s version of mitigation through documentation and
recordation with various interpretive plaques and exhibits after the demise of Capitol
Towers Historic District is insufficient. This very type of mitigation has been successfully
challenged in court.
Finally, Sacramento Commons’ DEIR violates local, state, and federal public policies
and needlessly exposes taxpayers to litigation arising out of these violations.
The Applicant and Applicant’s agents have been unyielding to any compromises or
alternatives from the beginning. Neighbors’ and residents’ concerns were dismissed and
ignored. This is in great contrast with other large-scale developments in the City (for
example, Delta Shores) who have taken the time to listen to and integrate the input of
residents, neighbors, and the community into their projects.
Though Applicant and Applicant’s agents were advised by members of the preservation
community in February 2014 regarding the existence of historical resources, they
dismissed this advisement and continued to deny the existence of historical resources
4.20.15 - SacMod Response to DEIR: Sacramento Commons (P14-012)
Page 33
even after it was formally determined eligible to be listed on the National Register of
Historic Places and was listed on the California Register of Historical Resources.
In closing, SacMod urges that the City deny the entitlements currently sought by the
Sacramento Commons project and to provide the necessary leadership, guidance, and
commitment to ensure that CEQA law is upheld. In the excitement surrounding the
developments downtown and consequent rush to get in on the action, this neighborhood
has been inappropriately targeted.
It does not make sense to destroy the most beautiful, functional, successful, dense,
established residential community downtown. This historic district and neighborhood
remains unparalleled in the architectural talent and planning principles it embodies even
to this day. Furthermore, the historic district is mis-categorized as an “infill” project and
already exemplifies the very core concepts the Commons project is seeking to achieve.
The neighborhood is already walkable, livable and desirable; why ruin a perfectly nice
place to live?
Historic districts are our connection with the past and give our city character. Historic
districts offer our city flexibility and stability, and provide centers of civic and economic
activity. They encourage ongoing care of existing properties and recognize organic
growth. Together, these are the ingredients for a vibrant and interesting cityscape. They
offer a sense of place and are the cultural heart of our city.
As eloquently noted by Tom Mayes:
“Old places are deeply beneficial to people because of the way they give us a sense
of continuity, identity and belonging, because they inspire us with awe, beauty and
sacredness, because they tell us about history, ancestry and learning, and because
they foster healthy, sustainable communities….
…. as Donovan Rypkema, real estate consultant and principal of PlaceEconomics
puts it, ‘The good news is historic preservation is good for the economy. In the last
15 years dozens of studies have been conducted throughout the United States, by
different analysts, using different methodologies. But the results of those studies are
remarkably consistent—historic preservation is good for the local economy. From
this large and growing body of research, the positive impact of historic preservation
on the economy has been documented in six broad areas: 1) jobs, 2) property
values, 3) heritage tourism, 4) environmental impact, 5) social impact, and 6)
downtown revitalization.’”
Let’s break the cycle of wasteful and needless destruction of beautiful and historical
structures. Let’s retain vibrant established communities such as Capitol Towers that
breathe life and a sense of place into our City.
4.20.15 - SacMod Response to DEIR: Sacramento Commons (P14-012)
Page 34
This is a long, complicated process, but SacMod seeks to facilitate a measured,
rational, and reasonable outcome for Sacramento Commons. Preservation AND
progress can be achieved through compromise and ingenuity.
Sacramento Commons should go back to the drawing board. We CAN and we
SHOULD do better — for our city — for our people — and for our future.
Respectfully submitted,
Gretchen Steinberg, President, SacMod
In conjunction with the SacMod Board of Directors:
Dane Henas, Vice President
Nick Vinciguerra, Secretary
Zann Gates, Treasurer
Justin Wood, Director At-Large
Jon Hill, Director At-Large
4.20.15 - SacMod Response to DEIR: Sacramento Commons (P14-012)
Page 35
Capitol Towers
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Flora Chou is a cultural resources planner at
Page & Turnbull’s Los Angeles office. Prior to
joining Page & Turnbull, she was a preservation
advocate for the Los Angeles Conservancy,
helping to implement the organization’s
advocacy efforts to protect historic resources.
Flora holds a master’s degree in historic
preservation from Columbia University and
is a LEED-accredited professional. Since
2012, she has served on the national board
of Docomomo US, a national nonprofit
organization that advocates for the buildings
and sites of the modern movement.
8EL; Capitol Towers and Gardens featured on the
cover of +HE=H;II?L;H9>?J;9JKH;January 1959.
BARRY L. WASSERMAN FAIA
________________________________________________________________
Community Facilitation
Urban Design
Architecture
October 24, 2014
Carol Roland-Nawi, Ph.D
State Historic Preservation Officer
California State Office of Historic Preservation
1725 23rd Street, Suite 100
Sacramento, CA 95816
Dear Ms. Roland-Nawi,
I wish to add my voice to those supporting the nomination of the Capitol Towers
complex in downtown Sacramento to the National Register of Historic Places.
The nomination packet submitted by Sacramento Modern clearly establishes the
historic significance of Capitol Towers using applicable National Register Criteria
A. and C.
The Capitol Towers complex is a non- replicable study resource for the general
public and design professionals as they continue to deal with the national issue of
providing central city housing solutions to deal with our nations ongoing housing
need.
The complex is a significant example how privately sponsored urban
redevelopment was utilized to support the public good. It is also an example of
the design work of a significant group of design professionals who have been
recognized nationally for their career work.
As the former California State Architect (1978-1984) who directed the
development of the Sacramento Capitol Area Plan I can attest to the significance
of this complex as a precurser to the basic principles of livability for urban infill
that supported the Plan and its subsequent success as a revitalization of its 42
acres of downtown Sacramento.
As a former Principal of Lawrence Halprin Associates I can attest to the
significance of the urban and landscape design of the complex to the body of
work of Lawrence Halprin.
________________________________________________________________
6456 Fordham Way
Sacramento, California 95831
916 / 392-7537
[email protected]
P. 2
Memory of the best of our past is to be revered and preserved. As Winston
Churchill said “We shape our buildings and they shape us”. In this case the
complete Capitol Towers complex serves to provide an ongoing testimony to the
impact good urban design can have on our community.
Capitol Towers was far reaching in its time and continues to be significant in the
present. Sacramento and California cannot afford to see it lost. It deserves to be
added to the National Register of Historic Places.
Sincerely.
Barry L. Wasserman, FAIA
________________________________________________________________________
6456 Fordham Way
Sacramento, California 95831
916 / 392-7537
[email protected]
Crain, [email protected]
From:
Sent:
To:
Cc:
Subject:
David Crowe <[email protected]>
Monday, October 20, 2014 10:50 AM
[email protected]
Crain, [email protected]; [email protected]
In Support of Capitol Towers and Garden Apartments, Sacramento
RE: In Support of Capitol Towers and Garden Apartments, Sacramento
October 19, 2014
Dear Ms. Roland-Nawi:
My wife and I moved into Capitol Towers when we first moved to Sacramento in 2006. We wanted to
experience high-rise living and took a 10th floor unit on the north side with a view of the Capitol. Our stay there
drives us to speak out about the unique virtues of the development.
Capitol Towers is not only of historical significance, but also a valuable teaching environment for developers,
planners, architects and the general public. It’s a testament of what good urban housing can and should be. To
walk through the square block park is to experience a sense of place, a respite from the hurried city that
surrounds it. Truly, a place its residents can relax in and enjoy the outdoors within walking distance of
downtown and light rail. Its lone tower set back amongst the low-rise apartments is allowed to be the viewing
platform to the city that it was meant to be. And the units themselves are spacious, open and light-filled with
walls of glass that promote indoor/outdoor living that is rare in contemporary urban development.
Now, developer financial-driven housing is based on what will pencil-out, not the livability of what is left
behind. As an architect, I understand times have changed and real estate is at a premium in the area, but what
hasn’t changed is why we should be building housing. Capitol Towers reminds us that housing is for people not
only for investment. There are lessons to be learned from this place. Lessons about light and air, privacy, and
breathing room. Once the infill begins, and density devours the gardens, the opportunity to experience and learn
from what once was a thoughtful development will be lost forever. Please, let it be.
Thank you for your consideration.
1
Sincerely,
David Crowe
1421 Claremont Way
Sacramento, CA 95822
916.833.4810
[email protected]
2
Crain, [email protected]
From:
Sent:
To:
Cc:
Subject:
Judith Lamare <[email protected]>
Wednesday, October 15, 2014 1:58 PM
Illa Collin
OHP, [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected];
[email protected]; Huck, [email protected]; [email protected];
[email protected]; Matthew Piner; gretchen steinberg; Crain, [email protected];
[email protected]; Roberta Deering; Jim Pachl; Carrr Kunze
Re: 10/15/14 Item 6, Capitol Towers and Villas
Dear City of Sacramento Preservation Commission, State Historic Preservation Officer and State Historic
Preservation Commission:
Below is transmitted an email I received from former Sacramento County Supervisor Illa Collin, expressing her
support for the preservation of the Capitol Towers and Villas. She asked me to forward this to you. Illa Collin
served decades as a county supervisor, but also she has been very important as a key leader for the Sacramento
environmental community. She has been recognized with many awards for protecting Sacramento's natural
resources. Because of her huge contribution to Sacramento's civic life, I am very touched by her story below
which attributes her move to Sacramento to the Capitol Towers and Garden Apartments. In her email below
she explains what Capitol Towers and Villas has meant to her personally.
Statement submitted by Illa Colllin, 7423 Braeridge, Sacramento, CA 95831
My husband and I moved to California in 1957 and settled in the Bay Area in Oakland where he had a job as insurance adjuster and I was a teacher in Piedmont. He then went to UCBerkeley to study law at Boalt. When he passed the Bar exam he went to work for the California Farm Bureau and quickly became a lobbyist and rented one of the Garden units under consideration for designation for Historical Preservation. I began receiving calls from Assemblymen and Senators encouraging me to agree to move to Sacramento as they wanted my husband to accept a position with the Revenue and Taxation Committee of the Assembly. To me Sacramento was just that horrible hot and grimy place we had to crawl through on our annual trip to Portland. At that time we had 3 young daughters and I did not want to move to the hot, miserable valley and Sacramento. The calls kept coming and they suggested I bring the girls and live with Don for at least a weekend and then see how I reacted to the idea. I did agree to that and it was Fall and maybe not so miserable in the Valley. We stayed in that Garden apartment unit and could not believe such an oasis existed in Sacramento!! Trees and grass and a City that had a real sense of place. We explored the City and found parks and trees right in the downtown area and also discovered Land Park and the Zoo and pony rides. All of which enchanted the girls. So staying there in that incredible oasis in the Garden unit was the key to our decision to move to Sacramento. To have such a treasure downtown deserves recognition. Emailed by:
JUDITH LAMARE
[email protected]
500 N Street, 1403
1
Crain, [email protected]
From:
Sent:
To:
Cc:
Subject:
Judith Lamare <[email protected]>
Thursday, October 16, 2014 9:47 AM
Crain, [email protected]
gretchen steinberg; Carrr Kunze; Roberta Deering; Michael Galizio
Re Capitol Towers and Villas, bio/tribute to Illa Collin
Amy
Could we append this tribute to Illa Collin's email that I sent yesterday regarding Capitol Towers and Villas?
It is by Congresswoman Doris Matsui on the occasion of Illa's retirement as a county supervisor in 2007. It
notes her role in creating the Sacramento Tree Foundation and the AMerican River Parkway Foundation among
other achievements.
Link: http://capitolwords.org/date/2007/01/24/E192-3_retirement-of-supervisor-illa-collin/
Rep. Doris Matsui
DCA
Madam Speaker, I rise in tribute to Sacramento County Supervisor Illa Collin and her esteemed career.
Supervisor Collin built a lasting legacy in Sacramento County and her presence on the board of supervisors will
be deeply missed. As her friends, family and coworkers all gather to celebrate her career, I ask my colleagues to
join me in honoring the dedicated service of one of Sacramento's finest leaders.Illa Collin was first elected to
the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors in 1978. She immediately made her presence known by tirelessly
working to strengthen neighborhoods and revitalize urban corridors. Through her 28 years on the board
of supervisors, she has preserved much of Sacramento County's natural beauty and open space.Supervisor
Collin has consistently been praised for her environmental record and leadership. She helped create the
Sacramento Tree Foundation and the American River Parkway Foundation. She has received the Outstanding
Service Award from the California Parks and Recreation Society as well as the Outstanding Public
Official Award from the National Association of County Parks and Recreation Officials. In 2005, Supervisor
Collin received the Environmentalist of the Year Award from the Sacramento Chapter of the Sierra
Club.Supervisor Collin performed an instrumental role in the women's movement From 1973 to 1975, Illa
helped lead the League of Women voters in Sacramento and in 1977 she became the first woman to serve as the
President of the State Reclamation Board. She has also received the Hannah G. Solomon Award from the
National Council of Jewish Women for improving the lives of women, children, and families.Prior to her
service on the board of supervisors, Illa worked to improve Sacramento on a number of fronts, including social
services and community planning. Now, after seven terms, Illa will be departing from the board of supervisors.
The people of Sacramento will miss her leadership, experience and dedication. Our community has been
fortunate to be graced by the presence of such an extraordinary woman.Madam Speaker, I am proud to honor
one of Sacramento's most distinguished citizens, Illa Collin. Her success and steady voice has been an
inspiration to Sacramento residents throughout the years. I ask all my colleagues to join me in thanking Illa
Collin and wishing her continued success and happiness in her future endeavors.
1
A Letter from Neighbors
October 14, 2014
State Historic Preservation Officer, Carol Roland-Nawi, Ph.D.
State Historic Preservation Commission
1725 23rd Street, Suite 100
Sacramento, CA 95816
Chair and Members of the Commission
Roberta Deering, Staff
Sacramento Historic Preservation Commission
300 Richards Boulevard, 3rd Floor
Sacramento, CA 95811
RE: Capitol Towers and Garden Apartments
Nomination to the National Register of Historic Places - SUPPORT
Dear Members of the Commissions:
As neighbors living in towers adjacent to the nominated property, we are pleased to submit this
letter in strong and unwavering support of the nomination of Capitol Towers and Garden
Apartments to the National Register of Historic Places.
We also would like to commend to you the Page and Turnbull historical survey which outlines
and confirms the rationale for this important nomination, organized and submitted by
Sacramento Modern, a non-profit dedicated to protection of modern art and architecture in
Sacramento.
The architectural masters, Barnes, Halperin and Wurster were the visionaries of this urban
renewal project. Their collective expertise and vision led to what we enjoy today, a true urban
oasis under a beautiful canopy of traditional Sacramento trees. Not only is this project
significant to our city and state, but to the nation. The principals in the project’s design,
construction and landscaping are recognized as innovative for their time, and they are all
leaders in their fields.
The Capitol Towers and Apartments are a part of a planned central city neighborhood with 748
housing units and ground level retail. It is a wonderful example of just how important urban
renewal projects designed by smart and forward thinking designers can be. The unique and
creative mid century modern design has made our community one of the most attractive in
Sacramento for decades. This mature, healthy and successful project brings to downtown
exactly the kind of residents the city is seeking to locate in the downtown area.
Our city has few examples of nationally recognized mid century modern residential housing.
Based on our understanding of the preservation criteria, at a minimum the historic buildings and
landscape plan meet Criteria A and B. Without this example of great urban architecture, our
community will never be the same.
One of the most significant aspects of these buildings and surrounding open space is that they
create a comfortable, pleasing yet utilitarian anchor to high rise living. Demolition and
construction will tear apart a strong and vibrant downtown community and most importantly, we
will fail to preserve and protect what is sure to become increasingly more valuable historic
housing in Sacramento.
We implore the Commissions to support the nomination.
Neighbors of Capitol Towers and Villas
Michael Galizio and Bobbie Metzgar, 500 N, APT 1004
Peter Kmeto, 500 N, APT 610
2
James P. Pachl and Judith Lamare, 500 N, APT 1403
Julie Mumma, 500 N, APT 806
Tommy Leong, 500 N, APT 605
JD Rowell, 500 N, APT 504
Kenneth Wemmer, 500 N, APT 1209
And Residents of Pioneer Tower, 515 P Street
3
4
Crain, [email protected]
Subject:
Attachments:
FW: Capitol Towers & Garden Apartments, Nomination for NRHP Listing
CA SHPO CapTwrs 100914.pdf
From: Pachl & Lamare [[email protected]]
Sent: Friday, October 10, 2014 6:05 AM
To: [email protected]
Cc: OHP, [email protected]; gretchen steinberg; Roberta Deering; Kimberly Anderson; Brian Sehnert; Peters, Richard;
[email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]; Huck, [email protected]; [email protected];
[email protected]; Green, Kathleen; Karen Jacques; Joseph Yee; Stanley, Judy
Subject: Re: Capitol Towers & Garden Apartments, Nomination for NRHP Listing
Excellent letter. Thank you very much.
Jm Pachl
On Oct 9, 2014, at 10:49 PM, [email protected] wrote:
Dear Dr. Roland-Nawi and staff,
Attached please find a PDF of my letter of support for the nomination
of Capitol Towers and Garden Apartments to the National Register of
Historic Places, pursuant to the Historical Survey prepared by Page
and Turnbull of August 27, 2014.
In additon to the relevant factors identified in the Page and
Turnbull survey, I have noted in the attached letter additional facts
that I believe to be relevant and which should be considered in
support of the nomination by the Office and California Historic
Resources Commission.
If you have any questions in regards to the points that I have
raised, please feel free to contact me by e-mail at the above
address, or by telephone to (707) 318-7800 (daytime cell) or
916-326-8803.
Thank you very much for your careful consideration of this matter.
Respectfully,
Carr Kunze
1
!
MELISSA E. MOURKAS
October 1, 2014!
!
Dear Commissioners:!
!
My name is Melissa Mourkas. I am an architectural historian and a landscape
architect residing in the City of Sacramento. !
!
I am writing in support of the National Register Nomination of the Capitol
Towers and Garden Apartments. !
!
In addition to the applicability of the Criteria as submitted by the applicant(s), I
would add under Criterion C/3 “the work of a master”. In fact, it is this
particular assemblage of well-known and highly respected modern designers
that makes it unique and special, and decidedly the work of a master. To quote
from page 31 of the original JRP Historic Inventory and Evaluation Report “WBE
was one of the best known architectural firms in California during the 1950’s to
1960’s” (JRP 2014). On pages 33-34, the report goes on to note “Lawrence Halprin
was one of the most well-known landscape architects in the latter half of the 20th
Century. He came to prominence in the 1950’s with his innovative designs for
urban environments…”!
!
EXACTLY!!
!
I believe we should recognize the collective accomplishment that is the Capitol
Towers. Capitol Towers and Garden Apartments not only won 7 or more awards
at the time of its design and construction, it has withstood the test of time as a
legacy to the changes occurring in the urban design at that time. It is a site plan
and landscape that works. Research by SacMod, Page and Turnbull and others
makes clear that the site plan in particular was in the vanguard of both mixed
use super-block design and civic spatial design.!
!
I support this nomination as both a resident of the City of Sacramento and as a
Historic Preservation professional.!
!
Sincerely,
!
!
!
Melissa Mourkas ASLA
!
!
References:!
JRP 2014—JRP Historical Consulting, LLC. Historical Resource Inventory and Evaluation Report, Capitol Towers
Apartments. May 2014.
Crain, [email protected]
From:
Sent:
To:
Subject:
Willis-Hunter, [email protected]
Friday, August 22, 2014 9:38 AM
Burg, [email protected]; Crain, [email protected]; Correia, [email protected]
FW: Preservation Project/Development Proposal
Hello Registration Unit,
Could you read the email below. Thanks.
Twila Willis-Hunter
Executive Secretary
Office of Historic Preservation
TEL: 916.445.7052
FAX: 916.445.7053
CELL: 916.869.8100
E-Mail: [email protected]
WEB: www.ohp.parks.ca.gov Note: My new email address is Twila.Willis‐[email protected] Please update your records for future use. From: OHP, [email protected]
Sent: Friday, August 22, 2014 9:29 AM
To: Willis-Hunter, [email protected]
Subject: FW: Preservation Project/Development Proposal
From: Leslie Medina [[email protected]]
Sent: Thursday, August 21, 2014 7:40 PM
To: OHP, [email protected]
Subject: Preservation Project/Development Proposal
Dear Commissioners:
I am a long time resident of Sacramento - and someone who cares greatly about preservation.
Capitol Towers and Garden Apartments at the “N" Street Superblock is functioning just as it was planned and
proposed many years ago as a great central city neighborhood. I want to preserve and protect the buildings, the
open space and the functioning central city neighborhood.
I don’t want to see Kennedy Wilson destroy the central city neighborhood as they sell parcels to developers. All KW
wants is to gain approvals for the tentative subdivision map to subdivide this superblock into 6 parcels.
Our city has lost too many of its significant landmarks. Don’t let this happen again.
Capitol Towers & Garden Apartments is an exemplary example of Mid-Century Modern architecture and urban
garden apartment living designed as a mixed density development in a park like setting, by renowned architectural
firm of Wuster, Bernardi and Emmons and completed in 1961.
Do not let these land speculators from Southern California win. Protect and preserve this central
city neighborhood.
1
Thank you for your consideration,
Leslie Medina
Leslie Medina
916-549-7795
[email protected]
2
From:
Subject:
Date:
To:
Cc:
Hilary West [email protected]
RE: Support for SacMod Capitol Towers/Garden Apartments Preservation Nomination
August 20, 2014 at 8:12 PM
[email protected]
[email protected], gretchen steinberg [email protected]
Dear Office of Historic Preservation Staff :
Capitol Towers and Garden Apartments at the “N" Street Superblock is functioning just as it was
planned and proposed 53 years ago. It is a great central city neighborhood — and I would add, one
of the few in Sacramento.
The new owners, Beverly Hills land speculators Kennedy Wilson, hired JRP Historic Preservation
Consultants to evaluate the historic significance of this complex. Unfortunately, JRP’s report contains
dozens of inaccuracies. Further, the conclusions are based scant evidence and designed to only meet
the needs of the KW's vision for Sacramento - not the facts or the public interest.
Sacramento Modern, a volunteer, non-profit organization, has completed a National Register
nomination. It is honest and accurate and is based on careful review and professional study.
I am concerned that whatever KW does, they will not develop the property, they are
not developers. What they will do is to acquire demolition permits to take out over 200
trees, some heritage trees, and demolish the historic garden apartments. Once they are
gone — they’re gone.
The result will be our city will loose a beautiful, functioning and historic
neighborhood where some of Sacramento’s and the Capital’s interesting historical
figures lived.
You have worked to save this type of important neighborhood and heritage buildings before.
It's time to step-up again. I would propose to you that our state has lost too many of its significant
landmarks. This significant historic redevelopment project in a superblock will never be
duplicated again.
Capitol Towers & Garden Apartments is an exemplary example of Mid-Century Modern
architecture and urban garden apartment living designed as a mixed density development in a park
like setting, by renowned architectural firm of Wuster, Bernardi and Emmons and completed in 1961.
Even 40 some odd years later, it is an oasis in the middle of the downtown.
Do not let these land speculators make this historic decision for us. California needs
to save it’s heritage. We’re California, and we work to protect and preserve our history.
Hilary West
[email protected]
20, August 2014
Carol Roland-Nawi, Ph.D, State Historic Preserva on O cer
California State O ce of Historic Preserva on
1725 23rd Street, Suite 100
Sacramento, CA 95816
Le er of Support for the Nomina on for Capitol Towers to the Na onal Register
of Historic Places
Dear Ms. Roland-Nawi,
My name is Pierluigi Serraino; I am a prac cing architect and author of books on
mid-century modern architecture. “Modernism Rediscovered” (Taschen, 2000) and
“NorCalMod: Icons of Northern California Modernism” (Chronicle Books, 2006) are
two tles of mine dealing with the extraordinary legacy of post-war architecture in the
Golden State.
I am wri ng to you to support the nomina on of Capitol Towers in Downtown Sacramento to Na onal Register of Historic Places. The cast of characters that designed this
project is nothing short of excep onal. William Wilson Wurster was the power broker
of a great many key events in the unfolding of the modernist trajectory in Northern California. Landscape architect, Lawrence Halprin, designed the master plan for
Sea Ranch. Edward Larrabee Barnes le his dis nc ve mark in the New York skyline
through his Ci corp highrise. These are but a few of the protagonists giving their design signature to the Capitol Towers scheme.
Between 1959 and 1965, the years of construc on of Capitol Towers, similar housing
experiments were implemented across California. Among the most notable are the
Golden Gateway Apartments in San Francisco, and Park La Brea in Los Angeles. The
common denominator of these urban schemes was a balanced approach of higher
density and choreographed nature. Under the moun ng pressure of a rising populaon a racted to the mirage of California living, architects and urban planners endeavored to conceive concrete responses to the growing post-war ci es.
Consciousness of the momentous importance of California Modernism is on the rise
na onwide. The nomina on of the Capitol Towers to the Na onal Register of Historic
Places would cons tute a culturally a rming statement that modern architecture
was prac ced responsibly and in a learned fashion all across the state, and not just in
Greater Los Angeles and the Bay Area.
Sincerely
Pierluigi Serraino, AIA
ALAN HESS
ARCHITECT
4991 CORKWOOD LANE
IRVINE, CA 92612
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July 22, 2014
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949 551 5343
[email protected]
alanhess.net
Carol Roland-Nawi
State Historic Preservation Officer
California State Office of Historic Preservation
1725 23rd Street, Suite 100
Sacramento, CA
95816-7100
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re: Capitol Towers and Garden Apartments nomination
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Dear Ms. Roland-Nawi:
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I would like to express my strong support for the nomination of Sacramento's
Capitol Towers and Garden Apartments complex for landmark status.
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This is a design of both historical and architectural significance, under Criteria A
and C. I say this as an architect and historian, author of nineteen books on
Modern architecture (often focused on California), and as the architecture critic of
the San Jose Mercury News.
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First, Capitol Towers’ historic character: it represents a key but neglected chapter
in the story of California's contributions to good urban planning in the midcentury
period. A widely held myth is that California in this period was dominated by
unplanned sprawl. Capitol Towers' existence disproves this myth; it shows that
good architects and good planners created well-designed, workable, and
successful developments incorporating high density, diverse housing types,
public art, and excellent landscaping, all well-integrated into its urban context.
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Capitol Towers should be preserved as a high standard for current development
to live up to. It should be celebrated, not demolished.
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Second, as architecture, the designers of Capitol Towers were among the best
and most distinguished of the period. Wurster Bernardi and Emmons was one of
the most influential firms of the time, setting high standards for the rest of the
profession. Vernon DeMars and Donald Reay were architects who brought a
strong architectural sensibility to planning design. Edward Larrabee Barnes was
a nationally respected designer. And Lawrence Halprin has long been recognized
as the dean of American landscape architects. That such designers would devote
their talents to this project shows their regard for the importance of urban life in
California.
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An important example of California's design leadership and innovation is at risk.
For the sake of recognizing California's extraordinary achievements in good
architectural and urban design, and for the genuine livability and urban quality
that this historic complex brings to Sacramento, Capitol Towers should be given
landmark status.
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Thank you for your consideration.
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Sincerely,
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Alan Hess
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ARCHITECT
MILFORD
WAYNE
DONALDSON
FAIA
July 24, 2014
Carol Roland-Nawi, Ph.D,
State Historic Preservation Officer
California State Office of Historic Preservation
1725 23rd Street, Suite 100
Sacramento, CA 95816
Support Letter for the Capitol Towers to the National Register of Historic
Places
Dear Ms. Roland-Nawi,
Capitol Towers and Garden Apartments (Capitol Towers), constructed between
1959 and 1965 on most of a four-block area in downtown Sacramento, California,
is significant under Criterion A in the area of Community Planning and
Development as the first privately-sponsored urban redevelopment project in
Sacramento and in California. Its initial phase of 92 garden apartment units,
dedicated in 1960, represents the first implementation of federal urban
redevelopment funds in the West.
Capitol Towers is also significant under Criterion C as a well-planned and welldesigned example of urban redevelopment housing. Having walked through the
complex several times and visiting a friend who used to live in one of the units, its
pedestrian-oriented design combination of low-rise and high-rise buildings,
integrated landscape features is unique. The site also maintains a strong urban
presence while balancing privacy and community for its residents. In addition, it
was the first redevelopment project for many of its talented design team that
included Wurster, Bernardi, and Emmons, Edward Larrabee Barnes, DeMars &
Reay and landscape architect Lawrence Halprin.
The Capitol Towers neighborhood has been a successful mixed-use residential
community for 50 years. As past California State Historic Preservation Officer, I
fully endorse the Capitol Towers to be nominated to the National Register of
Historic Places.
Milford Wayne Donaldson, FAIA
7745 GREENRIDGE WAY, FAIR OAKS, [email protected] CA 95628 916 532 8004
Crain, [email protected]
From:
Sent:
To:
Subject:
Correia, [email protected]
Monday, July 21, 2014 12:21 PM
Crain, [email protected]
FW: Letter in Support of the Preservation of Sacramento's Capitol Towers
Follow Up Flag:
Flag Status:
Follow up
Flagged
For you… Jay Correia
State Historian III
Supervisor, Registration Unit
California State Office of Historic Preservation
916-445-7008
From: Roland-Nawi, [email protected]
Sent: Monday, July 21, 2014 10:30 AM
To: Correia, [email protected]
Subject: FW: Letter in Support of the Preservation of Sacramento's Capitol Towers
Carol Roland–Nawi
State Historic Preservation Officer
Office of Historic Preservation
Department of Parks and Recreation
916 445-7050
From: Heather David [mailto:[email protected]]
Sent: Sunday, July 20, 2014 9:07 PM
To: Roland-Nawi, [email protected]
Cc: 'gretchen steinberg'
Subject: Letter in Support of the Preservation of Sacramento's Capitol Towers
Heather M. David 2401 Cory Avenue San Jose, California 95128 July 20, 2014 1
Carol Roland Nawi, State Historic Preservation Officer California State Office of Historic Preservation 1725 23rd Street, Suite 100 Sacramento, CA 95816 7100 Dear Ms. Roland Nawi: My name is Heather David. I am a California native and an advocate for the preservation of the State’s mid century modern resources. I write today in support of the preservation of Sacramento’s Capitol Towers residential community. In addition to the Capitol Towers development being an excellent example of a thoughtful approach to postwar urban renewal, the complex is as attractive and functional today as it was some 50 years ago. The minds behind the Capitol Towers master plan were arguably some of the best and brightest of their era William Wurster, Vernon DeMars, Lawrence Halprin, etc. No one can argue against these individual’s significant contributions to Modern design, in general, and to California Modernism, in particular. The Modern approach to urban residential living centered on increasing the quality of life through the effective use of interior space and integrating the indoors with the outdoors. In comparison, it seems that the current trend in urban “renewal” is to compromise quality of life for the pocketbooks of developers and higher tax revenues. High density development is great for developers. It is great for tax revenues. But is it great for the people who must live in these highly constricted spaces? Please save Capitol Towers. It is not only an iconic example of postwar urban residential architecture, it is HOME to many people. Sincerely, Heather M. David 2
July 16, 2014
Gretchen Steinberg
Sacramento Modern
4910 South Land Park Drive
Sacramento, CA 95822
Ms. Steinberg,
I am writing to provide a letter of support for the nomination of Capitol Towers to the National Register of Historic
Places and recognition of the property as a successful urban development with character worth preserving. I do
recognize Page & Turnbull prepared the nomination materials being submitted to the State Historic Preservation
Office on behalf of Sacramento Modern, and therefore we are responsible for formulating a statement of eligibility.
I wanted to take this opportunity, however, to reiterate a few thoughts regarding the signature historical
significance of the housing development and the unique planning project situated in our own local environs in
downtown Sacramento. It is, I feel, not only important relative to an historic context, but valuable to us as a
community seeking the best for our downtown.
As stated in the National Register Nomination application, we find Capitol Towers to possess an exemplary
representation of redevelopment housing design by a group of innovative, talented designers between 19591965. Specifically, the complex is comprised of a pinwheel arrangement of staggered low-rise units, a high-rise
building, and service buildings interwoven into landscape elements, exterior amenities, and shaped outdoor
spaces. The result is a delicately balanced environs of urban housing, shaded green zones and social interactive
spaces, both private and public. The managed, skillful design is clearly evident today, in good part due to the high
level of maintenance at the facility. A walk through the complex, as available to any local making their way
through the City grid, is delightful.
This combination of elements in the proportion as originally conceived here are rarely found in today's
development, with the extreme pressures on development ratios and financial terms. To drastically alter this site
now, as is currently proposed, would be a sorrowful waste of an urban icon in Sacramento. Densification and infill
is desirable in downtown Sacramento - but the action here comes at the complete destruction of a successful
mixed-density urban housing development. Do we need to repeat the removal of cultural history in order to build
our urban centers? Can we not learn from the ills of Redevelopment, as effected to Japanese settlements here in
the 1950s, and continue to learn from the best thinking of Modern era architects and planners, as current
residents, locals and design practitioners benefit from now? There are better opportunities for high-rise infill at
other underutilized, non-historic sites in our city. There could be ways to incorporate some modifications to the
Capitol Towers site, in a manner that protects the overall character of the planned community. The first step in
doing so is to recognize and systematically identify the existing significance and character, from a local
perspective and historic resource perspective. I hope our Preservation and Planning Commissioners will respond
with careful consideration in this situation and support our opinion Capitol Towers is an historic property with
unique urban qualities worthy of preservation. Placemaking is here at Capitol Towers in its current form.
Sincerely,
Melisa Nelson Gaudreau, Director- Sacramento Office, Page & Turnbull, Inc.
Dr Carol Roland-Nawi –SHPO
July 15, 2014
Office of Historic Preservation
1725 – 23rd Street-Suite 100
Sacramento, CA 95816
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RE: SUPPORTING THE NATIONAL REGISTER FOR THE
Capitol Towers & Garden Apartments
Dear Dr Roland-Nawi and OHP Staff:
This ‘super block’ project is an example of the architecture of our
recent past-the mid-century modern period. It was the largest residential
project in the Redevelopment process in Sacramento that began in 1958.
Redevelopment was ‘revitalizing’ the core of many other major cities in the
US to eliminate slums and blight. 223 blocks were demolished on the west
end of Sacramento.
The effort and concern by the renown architecture firm of William
Wurster, Brrnardi and Emmons, as well as the landscape architect
Lawerence Halperin, to make Capitol Towers a livable urban complex,
providing green space, a swimming pool and needed amenities in this
project. It is today a healthy, functioning, beautiful residential
neighborhood just two and half block from the center of downtown
Sacramento.
It has been modified or altered very little in the last 50 years. The
Bridgeway Condominiums and the Pioneer Tower, a senior living high-rise
apartments, are not part of Capitol Towers and were built later in the 60’s.
However, they were in the original Wurster plans.
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Pg 2
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I urge the State Office of Historic Preservation recommend this
nomination to the Keeper at the National Parks Service.
Yours in Preservation,
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Kathleen Green, a Concerned Preservationist
2010 Vizcaya Walk
Sacramento, CA 95818
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500 N Street, APT 1403
Sacramento, CA 95814
July 10, 2014
Dr. Carol Roland-Nawi, State Historic Preservation Officer
OFFICE OF HISTORIC PRESERVATION
1725 23rd Street, Suite 100
Sacramento, CA 95816
via:
[email protected]
Re: Support Nomination for Capitol Towers and Garden Apartments to the National Register of
Historic Places
Dear Dr. Roland-Nawi and staff:
I am writing in support of the nomination of Capitol Towers and Villas to the National Register
of Historic Places. This project is part of a four block “super block”, assembled and originally
planned for development by the City’s Redevelopment Agency. The condominium building in
which I am an owner (Bridgeway Towers at 500 N Street) was also part of that design.
I have been the beneficiary of the long range thinking and expert architecture employed in
designing this area over 50 years ago. I have lived in this community since 1989 when I
purchased a condominium, and I have found it to be safe, scenic, comfortable, with housing and
other amenities available to 750 households in four square blocks. The complex mixes high rise
and low rise, rental and ownership units, with large trees and open lawns, and many pleasing
views. This has produced a densely populated area that also is very livable, and maintains its
value very well, in large part because of the presence of an urban forest with large canopy trees.
This forest and associated low-rise apartments are threatened by removal.
Sacramento Modern has engaged in a heroic effort to document and educate the community,
particularly your agency, about the unique and enduring values of this area. I applaud their effort
to list Capitol Towers and Garden Apartments on the National Registry of Historic Places.
The historic designation recognition could help further to alert the community and our city
government that healthy neighborhoods should not be disposable for the “next big thing”. If they
endure and thrive because they were designed and planned by leading architects, they deserve
respect and protection for the values they bring to the city as a whole and the downtown area in
particular.
Thank you for considering this nomination.
Sincerely,
Judith Lamare 916 769 2857
c: Sacramento Modern
Carol Roland-Nawi, State Historic Preservation Officer
California State Office of Historic Preservation
1725 23rd Street, Suite 100
Sacramento, CA 95816-7100
July 14, 2014
RE: National Register Nomination of Capitol Towers, Sacramento, CA
Dear Ms. Roland-Nawi:
The Cultural Landscape Foundation would like to express our strong support for the nomination of Capitol
Towers in Sacramento, California to the National Register of Historic Places.
Capitol Towers, a part of the larger Sacramento Redevelopment Agency’s Capitol Mall Redevelopment Project,
is an important example of the early planning work of its talented design team which included landscape
architect Lawrence Halprin and architects Wurster, Bernardi and Emmons, Edward Larrabee Barnes, and
DeMars & Reay. The Capitol Towers development, which won several awards upon its completion in 1965, is an
early example of successful urban renewal which served as a model, both for the designer’s later works and for
further redevelopment projects in California.
Halprin prominently featured the development in his pivotal book Cities, where he highlighted elements of the
project including the plaza, screening wall, and site plan. He characterized the project as “the first living space to
follow the redevelopment process” and outlined the movement notation sequence (a pre-cursor to his RSVP
cycles) for the project’s circulation patterns. The project was also featured as an early example of urban
redevelopment in Lawrence Halprin: Changing Places, a catalog of the landscape architect’s work published in
1986. The project’s success is largely due to its unique integration of architectural and landscape design
elements—aided by its thoughtful incorporation of pedestrian circulation, gardens, recreational areas and a
plaza at its core. The complex as a whole is a unique historic resource, and significant example of the
architecture of its time.
The Cultural Landscape Foundation’s mission is to provide people with the ability to see, understand and value
landscape architecture and its practitioners, thus broadening the support and understanding for cultural
landscapes nationwide. Capitol Towers plays an important role in the history of Sacramento and California—
serving as an example for the redesign of urban areas throughout the state in the second half of the twentieth
century and I strongly urge you to approve the nomination of Capitol Towers in Sacramento to the National
Register, a worthy designation for this important cultural landscape.
Sincerely,
Charles Birnbaum, Founder and President
The Cultural Landscape Foundation
1711 Connecticut Avenue, NW, Ste 200
Washington, DC 20009
July 10, 2014
Carol Roland-Nawi, State Historic Preservation Officer
California State Office of Historic Preservation
1725 23rd Street, Suite 100
Sacramento, CA 95816-7100
Dear Ms. Roland-Nawi,
I am writing to offer my support for the nomination of Capitol Towers in Sacramento, California to
the National Register of Historic Places. As the first privately sponsored redevelopment project in
California, the site is an important example of 1960s planning, landscape and architectural design.
Captiol Towers represents the successful collaboration of master designers Wurster, Bernardi, and
Emmons, Edward Larrabee Barnes, DeMars & Reay and Lawrence Halprin, to create a pedestrianoriented housing complex that offers a unique and innovative example as compared to its more carcentric counterparts of the redevelopment era. The complex is an important early example of largescale neighborhood planning by the collaborating design team, who went on to design other
noteworthy residential complexes in California in the 1960s.
Neighborhoods of the modern era are increasingly threatened as they exceed the 50 year threshold
and many examples have already been lost due to development pressures. Consider the example of
Parkmerced in San Francisco, a significant modern housing complex built by the Metropolitan Life
Insurance Company with landscapes by Thomas Church and buildings by Leonard Schultze and
Associates. Parkmerced was found to be eligible for listing on the National Register, but was never
officially listed and was approved for demolition in 2011. The site presently awaits its demise. As
important examples of modern-era designs are increasingly threatened, it is essential that they are
acknowledged for their contribution to our shared history through designation.
The submitted National Register nomination is well-research, well-articulated and thorough in its
analysis of the site’s eligibility for listing. As a planner and cultural landscape historian who
specializes in modern-era landscapes, I concur with the findings of the nomination that Capitol
Towers is an important example of its type, period and the work of masters and is worthy of
designation on the National Register.
Respectfully,
Gretchen A. Hilyard
April 15, 2015
Dear Chair Fuller and Preservation Commissioners:
I am writing to urge you to support Capitol Towers listing on the
Sacramento Register, and ultimately the National Register. I also ask
that you encourage the Planning Commission to consider the
preservation of this existing community as a higher priority than
increasing the quantity of high rise housing at THIS site. Please urge
the Planning Commission to require the developers to incorporate the
historic buildings and landscape into their new plans, and to find a way
to preserve the existing community of Capitol Towers.
As a councilmember and later as Mayor, I represented this
neighborhood for 19 years. I became very familiar with its residents
and businesses and its assets and significance to downtown
Sacramento. It's not just an apartment complex, as I'm sure you
noticed if you've visited. It's a community of very satisfied residents
and business owners who love and contribute to the downtown
vibrancy, and have for decades. It is a site which allows the disabled
residents to freely navigate from their homes to restaurants, shopping,
and other services, without having to cross a street. And for the many
employed residents, the adjacency of light rail and the many
employers in the area, including the State, means they can get to work
without driving. I found it to be one of the safest and happiest
neighborhoods in the city. It seems unfair to disrupt this neighborhood
just because they are renters. This wouldn't and couldn't happen in
another residential block in downtown Sacramento, because the
residential property owners wouldn't allow it.
I support higher density and worked hard for years to encourage more
housing in the central city. I'm pleased to see the interest and demand
for downtown living. But this is an existing neighborhood, and is
already one of the densest housing in the central city. Its success
should serveas a model for other development, not a reason to take it
down. Within just a few blocks are a half dozen empty or underutilized
blocks that would be so much more appropriate for this development.
The general plan specifically calls for "protection of existing
neighborhoods" (see quote below), based on input from residents
throughout Sacramento.
Sacramento is a special city, and part of what it makes it so special, is
that we have preserved what makes it unique. One of my goals as
mayor was to preserve the unique historic buildings and
neighborhoods in downtown. That effort is part of what has positioned
Sacramento for its current round of progress. It's part of what has
attracted residents and businesses to locate here. Capitol Towers,
with its stability, walkability, tree canopy, and sense of community is a
special place that should also be preserved.
Thank you for considering my comments.
Heather Fargo
former Mayor of Sacramento (2000-2008)
from the City's General Plan -"Protect Established Neighborhoods"
"The City shall preserve, protect, and enhance established
neighborhoods by providing sensitive transitions between these
neighborhoods and adjoining areas, and by requiring new
development, both private and public, to respect and respond to those
existing physical characteristics, buildings, streetscapes, open spaces,
and urban form that contribute to the overall character and livability of
the neighborhood. (RDR)"
April 13, 2015
Members of the Sacramento Preservation Commission
Members of the Sacramento Planning and Design Commission
300 Richards Boulevard, 3rd Floor
Sacramento, CA 95811
Dear Commissioners and Staff:
We strongly urge you to vote in support of the nomination of Capitol Towers and Garden Apartments
(Villas) as an Historic District, including its Contributing Resources, to be listed in the Sacramento Register of
Historic & Cultural Resources, Landmarks, and Historic Districts.
Preservation of some 200 mature trees on site, with replacement in kind as part of the natural life-cycle,
would serve to advance Sacramento’s leadership role throughout the region, state, and nation as the preeminent
City of Trees. As California’s capital, with its rich history, the City’s preservation of this historic site would
serve to expand the stature of Sacramento for its significant architectural heritage.
Development of this 11-acre site in the mid-twentieth century has become celebrated as an important
example of Northern California Regionalism and humanism. It remains a significant achievement among the
few remaining grand urban spaces of redevelopment after World War II. It was envisioned and pioneered as
human scale, with landscape and architecture designed to enhance the livability for residents, neighbors to the
site, and the larger community, thereby providing a public benefit to the entire City of Sacramento.
Collaboration for this design was an important accomplishment and included: landscape architect
Lawrence Halprin, recognized nationally and internationally as an innovative leader in the field; and master
architect Edward Larabee Barnes, recipient of Gold Medal awards from the American Institute of Architects.
The inclusion of the sculptural wall by artist Jacques Overhoff contributed to the total integration of art,
landscape, architecture, and urban design for affordable housing, and which, above all, contributes to “a sense
of place,” so vital to the human spirit. The influence on Capitol Towers by internationally recognized master
architect William Wilson Wurster also is observable, although less documented, and whose contributions
appear to be born out by his appointment to the Capitol Building and Planning Commission of Sacramento after
completion of the initial design phase of Capitol Towers.
The City’s investment in preserving Capitol Towers and its Contributing Resources as an Historic
District is an investment in maintaining the City’s role as a leader in livable, urban design that will continue to
benefit residents through affordable housing, multi-family residences, and as a model for generations to come.
We urge that you give every consideration to its preservation and placement in the Sacramento Register
of Historic & Cultural Resources.
Sincerely yours,
Caroline Goddard
President
East Sacramento Partnerships for a Livable City